J. BAUM & N. HENBEST / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY J. BAUM & N. HENBEST / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Milky Way. Map of our Milky Way galaxy, a spiral galaxy with a short bar (yellow-white) at centre. Its diameter is about 100,000 light years. The estimated number of stars in the galaxy is about 15 billion. Molecular clouds (orange) and bright nebulae (purple) populate the galaxy's spiral arms. Molecular clouds consist of molecules and dust and are associated with regions of star formation. Nebulae are formed by hydrogen lit up and ionised by nearby young, hot stars. Clouds of neutral hydrogen are in yellow. Based on the locations of 1500 stars, nebulae and other objects, the Henbest/Baum map was the most accurate map of the galaxy when published in 1994.
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