Milky Way Galaxy

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The annotated artist's concept illustrates the new view of the Milky Way. The galaxy's two major arms (Scutum-Centaurus and Perseus) can be seen attached to the ends of a thick central bar, while the two now-demoted minor arms (Norma and Sagittarius) are less distinct and located between the major arms.

The major arms consist of the highest densities of both young and old stars; the minor arms are primarily filled with gas and pockets of star-forming activity.

The artist's concept also includes a new spiral arm, called the "Far-3 kiloparsec arm," discovered via a radio-telescope survey of gas in the Milky Way. This arm is shorter than the two major arms and lies along the bar of the galaxy.

Our Sun lies near a small, partial arm called the Orion Arm, or Orion Spur, located between the Sagittarius and Perseus arms.

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech)

Published: November 8, 2017