What is the Milky Way? Galaxy Facts for Kids

  • A galaxy is a system of millions, billions or even trillions of stars, gases, dust and dark matter held together by a gravitational attraction.
  • There are billions of galaxies in the universe.
  • Our solar system is located in the Milky Way.
  • The word galaxy comes from the Greek word galaxias meaning “milky.” This is where we get the name the Milky Way from.
  • There are different types of galaxies.  The main three are Spiral, Elliptical and Irregular.
  • Spiral galaxies look like flat disks with spiraling arms.  Spiral disks have a lot of gas and dust.  Many new stars are created in Spiral galaxies.
  • Elliptical galaxies are usually older.  They have less dust and gas.  New start are not often created in Elliptical galaxies.
  • Stars in an Elliptical galaxy are usually close together and look like one big star.
  • Irregular galaxies are galaxies that don’t fit into the Elliptical or Spiral group.
  • Galaxies are separated large amount of empty space.
  • A local group of galaxies is made of about 30 galaxies.
  • The three largest galaxies in our local group is the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way and the Triangulum Galaxy.
  • It is believed that large black holes are in the center of each galaxy.
  • It takes the sun over 20o years to orbit the center of the galaxy.  When the sun completes the orbit, it is called a galactic year.

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