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How did the Milky Way get its name?

  • How did the Milky Way get its name?

    y. Galaxies A galactic crash Sometimes, galaxies crash into one another due to the force of gravity. But the stars in them are too far apart to cause any real damage. Our own galaxy is on a collision course with its neighbour Andromeda. The collision will take place in about five billion years and the two will merge to form an elliptical (oval) galaxy. 7 Q How did the Milky Way get its name? A In ancient Greek and Roman myths, it was believed that the goddess Hera (Juno) spilt milk across the sky and called the white streak it left a ‘river of milk’. The Romans called it Via Lactea or a ‘road made of milk’. This is how our galaxy came to be named the Milky Way. Q Is the Milky Way a part of a cluster of galaxies? A The Milky Way and three of its neighbouring galaxies are part of a larger cluster known as the Local Group (because they are closest to Earth). The neighbouring galaxies in the Local Group are called Andromeda, and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Of the 35 galaxies in the Local Group, only these three can be seen with the naked eye.

    Milky Way An artist’s impression of our galaxy, the Milky Way, based on observations made by modern telescopes. Our Sun is a small star on one arm of the galaxy