Milky Way

Our Milky Way Galaxy is one of the most mysterious galaxies we observe. That’s because we’re studying it from inside its spiral disk, surrounded by its stars, gas, and dust. But what we do see tells us a lot about the Milky Way’s formation. Astronomers have managed to piece together a map of what our galaxy looks like from the outside, though even counting its spiral arms has been a lesson in humility.

Still, the Milky Way has plenty of secrets. Astronomers are tenaciously trying to glimpse the silhouette of its supermassive black hole, and they’re working to discover what created the Fermi bubbles, the humongous dumbbell belched from the galaxy’s core.

Here you’ll find the latest news on the bustling stellar metropolis we live in, the dwarf galaxies that make up its suburbs, and our evolving picture of everything Milky Way.

magnetar

A Cosmic Sleight of Hand

Astronomers have been waiting for our galaxy’s slumbering supermassive black hole to stir for a snack. Instead, the universe handed them a different treat.

Barrel-shaped supernova remnant

Baby Black Hole Discovered

Astronomers investigating a supernova remnant see nothing but swirls of gas. The lack of stellar remains means the explosion must have birthed a black hole only 1,000 years ago.

Mapping the Milky Way

New observations of spaghetti-thin clouds, faraway star-forming regions and mysterious magnetic fields are revealing the hard-to-see structure of the galaxy we call home.

stars orbiting black hole

Star Zips around Black Hole

Astronomers announced that they've successfully tracked a star that takes less than 12 years to whip around the Milky Way's central black hole. The star isn't so special on its own, but combined with other observations it might help unwrap the region's mysteries.

AAVSO survey

All-Sky Survey Sees Millions of Stars

A collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers is producing a careful map of stellar brightnesses and colors across the entire night sky. The survey should fill a hole that sometimes hampers quick, accurate measurements of events such as supernovae.

View of M31 in 3¾ billion years

M31 to Hit Milky Way Head-On

If anyone's still around 4 billion years from now, they'll have a ringside seat for a true clash of titans, as the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies smash into each other and merge.

WISE's view of Cygnus

WISE’s Grand View of the Infrared Sky

In just 10 months during 2010, an orbiting observatory meticulously recorded a "heat map" of the entire celestial sphere, revealing unseen beauty in the Milky Way and providing astronomers with a catalog of more than a half billion celestial objects.

H1743-322

Black Hole Shoots Bullets

Observations of a black hole that spat out twin blobs of superhot material may help astronomers understand how the mysterious beasts create powerful jets that shoot out from their poles. The blobs appeared just as the system went quiet in X-rays.

Sgr A* crumbs in 2021

Black Hole Breakfast En Route

Astronomers have discovered a dusty, stretched-out cloud heading for the supermassive black hole lurking in the Milky Way's core. The blob could be the meal the beast needs to wake up for a bit from its slumber, if the cloud survives its incoming trip on the dining cart.

Depiction of Cygnus X-1

Cygnus X-1, Exactly

Astronomers have pinned down the distance, mass, and spin rate for the first black hole candidate discovered, information that points to a birth sans supernova.

Amateur Discovers A Planetary Nebula

Austrian amateur Matthias Kronberger has found a planetary nebula near the northern constellation of Cygnus, the Swan. His discovery might help scientists understand the role of stellar companions in the formation of these glowing gas clouds.