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Astronomy/What galaxy is this?


Milky Way?
Milky Way?  
Hi there, the galaxy image attached is identified, albeit indirectly, as the Milky Way. I did an image search for same and similar images came up. Yet a friend insists it is NOT the Milky Way. Is it? If not, which galaxy is it.  

Your time is much appreciated, thank you, Jenn

The image you attached is an artist's conception of what our Milky Way Galaxy might look like if seen from "above" or "below" the disk of the galaxy.

All the individual stars we can see in the night sky are well within the region represented by the circle, and in fact most of them are considerably closer than the distance represented by it. But that doesn't mean that we can't see more distant stars, not as individual stars, but as a combined glow due to their total radiation. That's what we see when we we look at the Milky Way in a dark-sky location (although even then, we're only seeing light from a very small portion of the galaxy that happens to be relatively close to us).

We can also see the combined light of the stars in our satellite galaxies, the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, and of course our nearest large neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy.

As far as your friend, they are correct in that it is not an actual photograph of our galaxy; but it is a reasonable "artistic representation" of our galaxy.


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Courtney Seligman


I can answer almost any question about astronomy and related sciences, such as physics and geology. I will not answer questions about astrology and similar pseudo-scientific rubbish.


I have been a professor of astronomy for over 40 years, and am working on an online text/encyclopedia of astronomy, and an online catalog of NGC/IC objects.

Astronomical Journal, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (too long ago to be really relevant, but you could search for Courtney Seligman on Google Scholar)

I received a BA in astronomy and physics and a MA in astronomy, both from UCLA. I was working on my doctoral dissertation when I started teaching, and discovered that I preferred teaching to research.

Awards and Honors
(too long ago to be relevant, but Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi still keep trying to get me to become a paying member)

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