Galaxies are gigantic collections of stars. The galaxy in which the Sun is situated, the Milky Way Galaxy, is a vast spiral of about 200 billion stars measuring about 100,000 light years across. There are billions more galaxies in the Universe, most of which are elliptical (oval) in shape. There are also others that have irregular shapes.

            The Milky Way has a bulge at its centre, the nucleus, where older red stars are concentrated. Four giant arms radiate out from the nucleus. These contain younger blue stars as well as areas of gas and dust – the raw material for the creation of new stars. The whole spiral spins at a speed of about 250 kilometres per second.

            The Milky Way Galaxy closely resembles the Andromeda Galaxy, which lies 2.25 million light years away. The Sun is situated on one of the spiral arms about halfway out from the nucleus. Here are mostly yellow and orange young-to-middle aged stars.

            The Horsehead Nebula is really a gigantic cloud of dust and gas that has taken on a familiar shape. It is one of many clouds in our Galaxy where stars start to form.

Picture Credit : Google