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What is the Milky Way?

The Milky Way is a blocked spiral galaxy, one of hundreds of billions in the observable universe. It is also our home.

Like other galaxies, the Milky Way is an isolated collection of stars and other material bound together by their common gravity. In addition to the 100 billion to 400 billion stars in our galaxy, there are probably a similar number of planets in the Milky Way – some of which are part of solar systems and others float freely. Between the stars sit innumerable mists, there are clouds of gas and dust. The vast majority of interstellar gas is hydrogen and helium.

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