Milky Way Milky Way - ImagesGram

Milky Way

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System, with the name describing the galaxy's appearance from Earth: a hazy band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye. The term Milky Way is a translation of the Latin via lactea, from the Greek γαλαξίας κύκλος (galaxías kýklos, 'milky circle'). From Earth, the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from its outer rim. Galileo Galilei first resolved the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610. Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies.

This picture shows a portion of the Milky Way as seen from Cerro Paranal in Chile, home to the European Southern Observatory (ESO)'s Very Large Telescope, depicting the region spanning the constellations from Sagittarius to Scorpius. The colourful nebulae surrounding Rho Ophiuchi and Antares can be seen to the right, while the dusty lane of the galaxy runs obliquely through the image, dotted with reddish objects such as the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae. This region of the Milky Way also includes the Galactic Center, likely containing a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*.