What is

Milky Way - Explanation and definition of the Milky Way

What is the Milky Way?

The Milky Way is the name of the galaxy to which our Earth belongs, with a spiral shape and extraordinarily large this galaxy is named for the light band that crosses our night sky which has a milky way appearance.

If we look at the sky on a moonless night, clear, uncluttered and in an area free of light pollution we see a bright and faint band that crosses our visible sky, this band was named by the ancient Greeks as "galactos" that means milk, later were the Romans who named the Milky Way or path of milk.This light band actually corresponds to one of the barred spiral arms of the Milky Way, from our position on Earth are seeing our galaxy like the edge of a coin, if we could observe from above would see as a spiral.

With a spiral shape our Milky Way has a diameter about 120.000 light years, or what is the same 705.435.064.949.809.200 of Miles in length, contains an estimated 400.000 million stars quantity and 17.000 million of planets like our Earth, certainly our galaxy is bigger.

Our solar system is located about 28,000 light years from the galactic center, and as Earth orbits the Sun during 365 days a year, our solar system takes one year galactic, or what is the same 225 million years, to complete a full rotation along the center of the Milky Way, orbiting in the clockwise clock and an average speed of about 280 km per second.With these data it is estimated that our solar system has orbited our galaxy 20 times since the formation of the Sun 4.5 billion years ago.

The daily activity of our galaxy is wild, continuously there are stars born in accumulations of dust and gas called nebulae and others died in a large explosion in form of a supernova, quasars, pulsars, black holes, clusters of asteroids, comets, planets ... Certainly in the Milky Way is a place where many large-scale phenomena occur.

As occurs in other galaxy, the Milky Way center and with an equivalent of 4 million times our Sun mass is place a supermassive blackhole known as Sagittarius A *, this giant swallows and devours all the stars, planets, comets and other near its scope elements, Sagittarius A * was confirmed as a blackhole in 2008 by a group of German scientists.

Mythology and representation of the Milky Way

Over the years all the civilizations that have lived in different times of human history have watched and admired the great luminous band of our Milky Way, many civilizations have included the Milky Way as part of their religions, beliefs and myths. Silver Road, the backbone of the night, the World Tree, the road to Santiago, Wakah Chan... are among other names used by various cultures for identification.

The ancient Egyptians believed it was a way by which the Nile river agreed to the abode of Gods. On the other hand Chinese culture believed that was a way through walked the souls.African culture believed that our planet Earth was part of a living animal being the Milky his backbone that held the entire sky observable to the naked eye.

The Viking culture believed was the way to get to Valhalla or Hall underworld where combat deaths were traveling to meet with the god Odin. The Incas believed it was a way by which the water flowed toward heaven after falling as rain, however the Mayans called the World Tree still very important part of their religion because of the great worship that had it.

But among all civilizations the name we use today to describe this light band comes from the ancient Greeks who explained the origin of the Milky Way using the myth that the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, while breastfeeding Heracles to shed part of their milk to the sky forming the Milky Way.

After years of myths and beliefs the Greek philosopher Democritus was the first to point to the Milky Way as a collection of stars in our sky, that discoveries as many others who succeeded could not be verified at the time due to lack of technology they had, their theories were based on pure observation and the use of his reasoning.

In 1610 the great teacher and physicist Galileo confirmed the presence of the stars using his telescope, confirming the indications of the philosopher Democritus.From now on, whenever it was learning more and more about our galaxy.

what is the milky way