Milky way is really milky!

Milky way after all is milky in colour for sure! Scientists have revealed that our galaxy is aptly named Milky Way as it looks white, the colour of fresh snow in the early morning.

University of Pittsburgh astronomers said their finding is significant because we are located in the middle of the Milky Way, which had previously made it difficult to accurately determine the colour of the galaxy.

Colour is a key detail of galaxies, shedding light on its history of star formation.

Since we are located well within our galaxy, clouds of gas and dust obscure all but the closest regions of the galaxy from view, keeping us from directly seeing what colour our galaxy is as a whole.

"We can really only see 1,000 to 2,000 light-years in any direction — the Milky Way is 100,000 light-years across," said study co-author Jeffrey Newman at the University of Pittsburgh.

"The problem is similar to determining the overall colour of the Earth when you're only able to tell what Pennsylvania looks like."

To sidestep this problem, astronomers decided to look at other galaxies' colours to figure out the hue of our own.

The reasoning is that galaxies whose other properties closely match the Milky Way's can likely tell us what our galaxy's colour is.

Newman and Timothy Licquia, PhD students in physics, were able to get around this hindrance by using images that were taken from other, more distant galaxies we can view more clearly.

They observed the galaxies using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which measured the detailed properties of nearly a million galaxies.

The light from the Milky Way closely matches the colour of a standard incandescent light bulb, which the human eye would perceive as white, according to Discovery News.

"The Milky Way ended up being very bright for a red galaxy, but for all galaxies overall, it seems to be a little less luminous than we think it would be," Licquia told Discovery News.
"We're not sure why."

Their findings also revealed that the Milky Way's core has red colouring and sky-blue spiral arms.

Because the Milky Way is among the reddest of spiral galaxies, the researchers said that means its days of forming stars are nearing an end.

"It's entering its retirement when it won't make anything new," Newman said.

Also, based on the type and number of stars the Milky Way is a typical galaxy.

The research was unveiled Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas.

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