Galaxies

by Fraser Cain on April 30, 2009

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Galaxies

Spiral galaxy NGC 3982. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Hello, is there anyone out there? With all of the galaxies in the Universe, is it possible that there is cognizant life somewhere else? Well, I can not answer that question for you, but I can offer you a great deal of information about galaxies so that you can make your own informed decision on the matter.

Our’s is a spiral galaxy. A spiral galaxy is shaped like a flat disk with a thicker bulge in the center. Bright spiral arms start from the center and then coil outward like a pinwheel. All spirals rotate very slowly. The Milky Way completes a single revolution once every 250 million years.

Most galaxies are billions of years old. The youngest known galaxy is 1 Zwicky 18. At an estimated age of a mere 500 million years, it is a babe in diapers compared to the Milky Way at 10-14 billion years, which is the average age of the known galaxies.

Scientists think that galaxy formation was led by dark matter. This invisible material clumped together and it attracted regular mass with its gravity, channeling material together into larger and larger collections. This process of matter accretion led to the first proto-galaxies.

The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is the closest galaxy to ours. It is actually contained within the Milky Way and only 42,000 light years form the galactic core.

In the links below you will find thousands of facts, figures, and images that will help you understand many things about galaxies in general and some specific types. Enjoy your reading.

About 

Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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