5 cool facts about the Milky Way
#1 Its name used in most European languages is very ancient
Throughout history, many names were given to the part of our galaxy visible from Earth, but the one invented by Ancient Greeks survived into the contemporary era. It inspired such names as:
- Via Lactea in Latin;
- Milchstraße in German;
- Melkweg in Afrikaans;
- Mléčná dráha in Czech;
- many other, primarily European names, all derived from Latin.
In many Asian countries, such as China and Vietnam, our galaxy is called the Silver River. In Uralic, Turkic and Baltic languages it's usually referred to as the Birds' Path.
#2 We can see only around 0.0000025% of the Milky Way galaxy from Earth
The exact number of stars in our galaxy is unknown: there can be 200 billion, 400 billion or even 700 billion of them. The way to calculate it is still to be found.
#3 4 billion years later, our galaxy will die
Interestingly, our planetary system will survive this crash – it will become a part of a new giant galaxy.
#4 It has eaten up multiple tiny galaxies, which gave the Milky Way its current appearance
Even now, the stars of the closest dwarf galaxies are being added to ours.
#5 Today, it's impossible to take a picture of the Milky Way from above
When you see a picture of the Milky Way as a spiral galaxy, it's never a real picture – it's either a picture of another similar galaxy or a high quality illustration.
Things we do to explore space and learn more about it can be surprising – just take a look at this list of the weirdest man-made things ever sent to space (a Buzz Lightyear toy and human remains included).
Did you enjoy these Milky Way galaxy facts? Which one surprised you the most?
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