Meaning of Milky Way

What is Milky Way:

The Milky Way is a spiral-shaped galaxy that contains approximately 200 billion stars of the Universe and where the Solar System is located.

Milky WayThe Milky Way overviewSerge Brunier

The name of the Milky Way derives from the Greek Kiklios Galaxies which means “milk path”.

The first observations of the Milky Way were made by the Greek astronomer Democritus. The first map of the galaxy was made by William Herschel in 1785, who studied the distribution of the stars and concluded that they formed a large disk. In 1916, the astronomer Harlow Shapley estimated the total size of the Milky Way and the position of the Solar System.

Rotating clockwise, the Milky Way exhibits various spiral arms – Perseus, Sagittarius, Centaurus, Cygnus – in a spiral format and a dense formation of stars that make up the core covered in gas clouds where scientists suspect the existence of a black hole.

The Solar System is located in the Orion or Local arm, which is part of the Sagittarius spiral arm.

Features of the Milky Way

The measure of the Milky Way is between 100 thousand – 120 thousand light years of extension in the total diameter and 80 thousand light years of thickness. The diameter of the nucleus is about 30,000 light-years in the north-south direction and 40,000 light-years in the equatorial direction.

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The Milky Way belongs to a conglomerate of galaxies called by scientists the ‘Local Group’, made up of about 50 galaxies. Among the best known or the dominant ones in this group are the Milky Way, Andromeda and the Triangulum Galaxy, the rest are dwarf galaxies that orbit around these three large ones, known as ‘satellite galaxies’.

See also Galaxy.

Parts of the Milky Way


The halo is a spheroidal structure that surrounds the galaxy, it is characterized by the low concentration of stars and gas clouds, which is why it lacks regions with star formation.

On the other hand, most of the globular clusters are evident in the halo, which are groups of stars probably formed when the galaxy was a great cloud that collapsed and became more and more flattened.

Finally, most of the mass in the galactic halo is in the form of dark matter.


For its part, the disk is the part of the galaxy with the most gas and is where star formation processes are still observed. It has eight spiral arms: two main arms Shield, Centaurus and Perseus, and two secondary ones -Sagittarius, Squadra-, in the brightness of the arms are the blue giant stars, which are characterized by their short existence.

The disk is linked to the galactic bulge by a ring that has a large amount of molecular hydrogen and the presence of star formation.

galactic bulge

The galactic bulge, also called the galactic nucleus, is located in the center of the galaxy with the highest density of stars. Likewise, it is presumed that in the galactic center there is a black hole that astrologers called Sagittarius A.

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See also Solar system.

Milky Way in Greek mythology

The Greek god had a son with Alcmena named Heracles or Hercules to the Romans. Upon hearing the news, Hera tried to eliminate him and sent two snakes to kill the eight-month-old baby, but he freed himself from them by strangling them with his bare hands. However, the Oracle indicated that Heracles would only be a hero since he was mortal and to be immortal he had to demonstrate the courage of a god, for which two versions are believed:

  • Hermes, the messenger of the gods, placed Heracles in Hera’s bosom while she slept so that she would lactate the divine milk, but when he realized what was happening, he separated him and spilled the milk, forming the Milky Way.
  • Athena, the goddess of wisdom, convinced Hera to let Heracles suck her divine milk, but when he sucked, he hurt Hera and made her spill the milk.

See also Myth.

Milky Way zoe

Zoe is a Mexican rock band formed in 1995. The band is made up of León Larregui (vocals), Sergio Acosta (guitar), Jesús Báez (keyboards), Ángel Mosqueda (bass) and Rodrigo Guardiola (drums).

Zoe is characterized by psychedelic rock and electronic music influenced by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Gustavo Cerati, among others.

Generally, her themes are related to the universe and space, and in relation to her the ‘milky way’ is a single from the album Memo Rex Commander and the Atomic Heart of the Milky Way It went on sale on July 12, 2006, with great receptivity from its audience, managing to win the Gold Record.

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See also Psychedelic.