Milky way

A mosaic image of our Milky Way galaxy created over the course of nearly 12 years.

See Astonishing Milky Way Mosaic Image That Took 12 Years to Create

A Finnish astrophotographer created the 1.7 gigapixel image by stitching together photos with a total exposure time of roughly 1,250 hours

This is the all-sky map created by the eROSITA X-ray telescope, represented in false color  (red for energies 0.3-0.6 keV, green for 0.6-1.0 keV, blue for 1.0-2.3 keV). The original image was smoothed in order to generate the above picture.

New Research

An X-Ray Hourglass Is Emerging From the Middle of the Milky Way

Astronomers spotted the two gargantuan bubbles of charged particles ballooning out from the middle of our home galaxy

The Blue Ring Nebula is invisible to the human eye, but telescopes can measure the ultraviolet light, which is shown here in blue.

New Research

Astronomers Crack the Case of the Blue Ring Nebula

The source of the dazzling display puzzled scientists for more than a decade

Dust-rich outflows of evolved stars similar to the pictured Egg Nebula are plausible sources of the large presolar silicon carbide grains found in meteorites like Murchison.

Meteorite Grains Are the Oldest Known Solid Material on Earth

The oldest dust sample, perhaps 7 billion years old, predates the formation of our planet and the sun

Illustration of a hot Jupiter planet in the Messier 67 star cluster. Hot Jupiters are so named because of their close proximity — usually just a few million miles — to their star, which drives up temperatures and can puff out the planets.

What Astronomers Can Learn From Hot Jupiters, the Scorching Giant Planets of the Galaxy

Many of the planets that are roughly the size of Jupiter orbit right next to their stars, burning at thousands of degrees

The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun.

Astronomers Capture First-Ever Image of a Supermassive Black Hole

The Event Horizon Telescope reveals the silhouette of a black hole at the center of a galaxy 55 million light-years away

An ultraviolet image of the Andromeda galaxy, the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way, taken by NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer space telescope. Like our own galaxy, Andromeda is a spiral galaxy with a flat rotating disk of stars and gas and a concentrated bulge of stars at the center.

Streams of Stars Snaking Through the Galaxy Could Help Shine a Light on Dark Matter

When the Milky Way consumes another galaxy, tendrils of stellar streams survive the merger, containing clues about the universe's mysterious unseen matter

The positions of the globular clusters used to estimate the mass of the Milky Way.

Cool Finds

How Much Does the Milky Way Weigh?

Measurements from the Gaia satellite and Hubble Space Telescope show our galaxy tips the scales at about 1.5 trillion solar masses

New research allowed astronomers to see a star forming region on the other side of the galaxy.

New Research

Scientists Peek Across the Galaxy to the "Dark Side" of the Milky Way

Until now, researchers haven't been able to map half of the galaxy we call home

Ask Smithsonian 2017

How Does Earth's Geomagnetic Field Work?

You asked, we answered

A new map reveals the most detailed picture of hydrogen atoms in the Milky Way ever made.

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This Breathtaking Map Traces Hydrogen Throughout the Milky Way

Scientists have made the most detailed map of our home galaxy’s hydrogen currently possible

Our part of the Milky Way is more impressive than anyone thought.

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Our Galactic Neighborhood Is Bigger Than Scientists Once Thought

Goodbye spur, hello spiral arm

Produced by the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, this three-dimensional view of the Milky Way Galaxy is the first of its kind.

Behold a Billion Stars in This Stunning New Map of the Milky Way

Generated from Gaia satellite data, this stellar new map is the most complete chart of our galaxy to date

An artist's impression of the Milky Way six million years ago, depicts an orange bubble at the galactic center and extending to a radius of about 20,000 light-years. Scientist think that outside of that bubble, a pervasive "fog" of million-degree gas might account for the galaxy's missing matter.

Solving the Mystery of the Milky Way’s Missing Mass

Smithsonian scientists have discovered a huge cloud of super hot gas expanding from the middle of our galaxy

Telescope array

Think Big

The Hunt for High-Energy Photons Takes Place From a Mountaintop in Mexico

A new telescope built from water tanks might help answer some of the biggest questions in astronomy

My God, it's full of gas.

New Research

Marvel at the Newest Map of the Milky Way

It is the most complete map of the cold galaxy ever made

An artist’s vision of what the night sky would look like from a planet at the heart of an ultracompact galaxy

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These Super-Dense Galaxies Are Bursting With Stars

Life in these systems would have trouble starting, but the night skies would be spectacular to behold

Scientist know that Venus' surface, depicted here based on radar data, was shaped by volcanoes, and a new study suggests they may still be active.

New Research

Venus (Probably) Has Active Volcanoes

And they’re (probably) erupting!

A view of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

New Research

The Galaxy May Be Way Bigger Than We Thought

New data analysis suggests that the Milky Way may be 50-percent larger than previously believed

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New Research

This Is How the Milky Way Will End

A computer simulation shows how the Milky Way will collide with Andromeda

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