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The Milky Way

The galaxy in which we live. It gets its name from the way it looks in our night sky. A white streak across the sky.

This is where the centre of the galaxy is. Since we are in the galaxy we are not certain about what our galaxy looks like from the outside, but we have a pretty good idea based on the observations made.

The Milky Way contains about 200-400 billion stars and is estimated to have at least 50 billion planets, 500 million of which could be located around a star at a distance that could support life.

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. This means that it looks like a Catherine Wheel with arms coming out. Our Solar System lies about two thirds from the galactic centre. Each arm spins at about 230km/s.

The Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years in diameter, and is considered to be, on average, about 1,000 light-years thick.