4. The Milky Way Won’t Live Forever
In about four billion years, the Milky Way will collide with its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. The two spiral galaxies are currently hurtling toward each other at 250,000 miles an hour. When they do smash into one another, it won’t be as cataclysmic as you might imagine—Earth will likely survive, and very few stars will actually be destroyed. Instead, the newly formed mega-galaxy will offer a night skyscape with a spectacular blend of stars and streamers unlike anything we see today.
5. Our Sun Is One Star among Several Hundred Billion
There are a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way. Or is it 300 billion? Or 400 billion? That’s right—we don’t actually know how many stars are in our galaxy. Many of them are dim, low-mass stars that are hard to detect over vast cosmic distances, and there are massive clouds obscuring the bulge of stars nearest to Sagittarius A*. Astronomers have estimated the total number of stars based on the Milky Way’s mass and brightness, but more precise numbers are still elusive.