A Sense of Scal1

A Sense of Scal1 - A Sense of Scale The Sun is one star...

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A Sense of Scale The Sun is one star among over 200 billion stars gravitationally bound together to make the Milky Way Galaxy. A galaxy is a very large cluster of billions of stars held together by the force of their mutual gravity on each other. That definition is a loaded one that will be unpacked and examined in more detail in later chapters, but for now let us continue on our brief tour of the universe. The Milky Way is a flat galaxy shaped like a pancake with a bulge in the center. Stars and gas are clumped in spiral arms in the flat disk part of the Galaxy. Many stars are also found in between the spiral arms. Our solar system is in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way and is about 27,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. The entire Milky Way is about 100,000 light years across. In our scaled model with the Sun 16.51 centimeters across, the Milky Way would be about 112 million kilometers across or about 38% of the size of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Recall that Pluto's orbit is only 1.4 kilometers across on this scale---the Galaxy is
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This note was uploaded on 12/15/2011 for the course AST AST1002 taught by Professor Emilyhoward during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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A Sense of Scal1 - A Sense of Scale The Sun is one star...

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