The Milky Way’s 219 MILLION stars mapped
- Astronomers created the map using a 8.2ft mirror on the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) in the Canary Islands
- INT charted stars brighter than 20th magnitude – or a million times fainter than can be seen with the human eye
- It shows the visible part of the northern region of our home galaxy with darker regions showing galactic dust
- Scientists hope the map will give them a new insight into the structure of this system of stars, gas and dust
THE MILKY WAY: KEY FACTS
The Milky Way is thought to be 120,000 light years across and contains more than 200 billion stars.
This makes it a ‘middleweight’ galaxy with the largest galaxy known, IC 1101, containing more than 100 trillion stars.
On a clear night, when you look up into the night sky the most you can see from any one point on the Earth is about 2,500 stars.
Like more than two-thirds of the known galaxies, the Milky Way has a spiral shape.
At the centre of the spiral, a lot of energy and, occasionally, vivid flares are created.
Astronomers believe the Milky Way wasn’t always a stunning barred spiral. It formed into its current size by ‘eating’ other galaxies.