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Spiral galaxy. Artist's illustration of a spiral galaxy seen face on, showing the spiral pattern of its arms. A spiral galaxy is a flattened, disc- shaped stellar system that rotates in a nearly circular fashion. Arms curve out from the rotating centre. These galaxies contain not only some old stars but also large populations of young stars, much gas and dust, and molecular clouds that are the birthplace of stars. Often the regions containing bright young stars and gas clouds are arranged in the long spiral arms. The majority of galaxies are thought to be spiral, including our own, the Milky Way.
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