Milky Way. Fish-eye view of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way is a disc-shaped spiral galaxy that measures about 100,000 light years across and contains at least 100 billion stars. From Earth it appears as a band of star clouds and dark dust lanes (which obscure the stars behind) running across the sky. The bright central area is the dense central bulge in the heart of the galaxy, where the concentration of stars is highest. The red spots are gas nebulae where new stars are forming. Our Solar System lies about 25,000 light years from the galactic centre in one of the spiral arms.
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