Galaxies Essay

This essay has a total of 1101 words and 6 pages.

Galaxies






When you look at a distant galaxy, you are not only seeing into space, but far into the
past as well. The light from one of the galaxies we see today actually started its
journey toward Earth more than two – million years ago.


The discovery of galaxies [1] began in the early 1400’s by Polish astronomers and
continues to be studied today. Knowing as we do today that the universe is amenable to
investigation, and that telescopes can examine millions of galaxies at distances of
millions of light – years. [2] Though they shine with light of many billions of suns, most
galaxies are so distant that they look faint. There are only three galaxies visible to
the naked eye from the surface of the earth. These are the two Magellanic Clouds, which
lie in the southern skies and the Andromeda Galaxy, whose tenuous glow was aptly described
by a seventeenth – century observer.


The form and variety of galaxies differ in size and mass. Normal galaxies or,
often-called spiral galaxies are mostly large. The general anatomy can be described in
three ways: a central region or elliptical (based on the shape and centered upon the
nucleus), and a spherical corona or halo, composed primarily of old dwarf stars [3] and a
globular cluster [4]. Spiral galaxies are probably formed from giant clouds of rapidly
spinning hydrogen gases. Some of the gases pulled to the center by gravity and condensed
into stars. The rotating disk of gases and stars form arms [5] and that is what gives the
galaxy its spiral shape.


Elliptical galaxies far outnumber the spiral galaxies. An elliptical galaxy looks like a
squashed ball. The Centaurus A [6] is an elliptical galaxy. It is one of the brightest
and largest galaxies known, with three times as many stars as our galaxy. Scientist think
that the center of this galaxy is experiencing giant explosions of million of stars
hurling out clouds of hot gas. The central region is hidden by a dark band made of dust
and gas.


Our sun and its planets lie in the environs of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way is
formed by billions of stars. It is something that resembles a path or river result due to
the fact that like any other normal spiral galaxies it is flattened in form. The light of
The Milky Way is more intense in one direction, toward the constellation [7] Sagittarius
in the southern skies of Earth. Dark rifts meander through the Milky Way. We now know
that dark cloud of dust and gas that blocks the light from the stars that lie beyond them.


The structure of the Milky Way is a flattened disk that we know now to be the disk of our
galaxy. Its appearance from our vantage point is that of a broad river of light
stretching across the sky and glowing with the combined lights of myriad stars. The Milky
Way lies toward the center of our galaxy. Our sun is more than halfway of our galaxy, so
the richest star fields from our vantage points are those we see when we look back towards
the center.


The Local Group is the nearest galaxies to us. They are called the Magellanic Clouds.
They are called Magellanic by virtue of them having been introduced to the western
civilization by the crew of Ferdinand Magellan. Their discovery made it possible to
establish the clouds that were too distant to be part of our galaxy. The large Magellanic
Cloud is about 150,000 light years, the small Magellanic Cloud is about 250,000 light
years from the sun. Less than 100,00 light years separate, the two clouds.


The orbit of the Magellanic Clouds lie well within the gravitational field of our galaxy
and orbits it as satellites. This arrangement of small galaxies playing court to large
one is common in the universe. The spiral like the Milky Way plays host of several
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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