Our galactic home in the cosmos – the Milky Way – is just one of two trillion observable in the Universe.
From our own vantage point on Earth, we have identified the presence of spiral arms.
However, being stuck in the Milky Way itself, we see it exclusively from the side.
Even our best views from space leave a lot of ambiguity in the overall structure of our galaxy.
We are not a large spiral galaxy because we lack extended outer arms.
We are also not like Andromeda, our nearest large neighbor, which has no central bar.
While a third of spiral galaxies have bars, ours is smaller than many, like that of NGC 1300.
The outer arms are neither irregular nor tightly coiled; we are not “flocculants”.
Additionally, the Milky Way has a small but significant central bulge.
We also display major arms, minor arms and spurs, with the spur of Orion housing our Sun.
While many galaxies copiously form stars, the Milky Way is relatively quiet.
It is only in the arms themselves that new stars mainly form.
It is as if the Milky Way was a large barred spiral galaxy with a small elliptical-like center.
Many similar galaxies are known, but no one knows exactly which resembles our Milky Way the most.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in pictures, visuals and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.