Galaxy Facts

  • Galaxies are giant groups of millions or even trillions of stars. Our own local galaxy is the Milky Way.
  • There may be 20 trillion galaxies in the Universe.
  • Only three galaxies are visible to the naked eye from Earth besides the Milky Way – the Large and Small Magellanic clouds, and the Andromeda galaxy.
  • Although galaxies are vast, they are so far away that they look like fuzzy clouds. Only in 1916 did astronomers realize that they are huge star groups.
  • Spiral galaxies are spinning, Catherine-wheel-like galaxies with a dense core and spiraling arms.
  • Barred spiral galaxies have just two arms. These are linked across the galaxy’s middle by a bar from which they trail like water from a spinning garden sprinkler.
  • Elliptical galaxies are vast, very old, egg-shaped galaxies, made up of as many as a trillion stars.
  • Irregular galaxies are galaxies with no obvious shape. They may have formed from the debris of galaxies that crashed into each other.
  • Galaxies are often found in groups called clusters. One cluster may have 30 or so galaxies in it.