The Milky Way
The Sun is just one of the hundred billion stars, existing in our galaxy, which is the Milky Way. The softly shining band of light in our night sky is called the Milky Way, and is the edge view of our own galaxy. The Milky Way is spiral in shape, and the Sun is found out towards its edge.
It is approximately 130,000 light years in diameter and it bulge in the middle is 20,000 light years in diameter. The total mass is 100 billion times the Suns mass.
The galaxy is so huge that it would take a beam of light about 100,000 years to cross from one edge to the other, even though light travels at almost 186,000 miles per second. Huge areas of the Milky Way are unexplored by astronomers because; dark clouds block the light from the center of the galaxy. However, by observing other galaxies have helped us to build up a picture of what ours is like.
The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy, with two arms that rotate slowly. Within the main arms of the Milky Way are smaller arms where stars and nebulae are more closely linked.
The area in which our Sun is found takes about 225 million years to go around once. At the center is a bright halo of stars that formed with the galaxy, 14 billion years ago. The arms contain vast nebulae of gas and dust where new stars are being born. The Orion Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, Cone Nebula, Rosette Nebula, Trifid Nebula, California Nebula, North American Nebula, Vela Supernova Remnant, and the Solar System are all found in the Milky Way.