The direction a galaxy rotates depends on your perspective. The galaxy's disk includes stars, planets, dust, and gas—all of which rotate around the galactic center in a regular manner. The image above is M33 – a nearby spiral galaxy – probably similar in appearance to our own Milky Way. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is typical: it has hundreds of billions of stars, enough gas and dust to make billions more stars, and about six times as much dark matter as all the stars and gas put together.

There are many stars that are also in-between the spiral arms, but they tend to be the dimmer stars (G, K, M-type stars). There's another set of galaxies that are rather shapeless, don't necessarily have spiral arms, but do have a lot of sites where stars are forming. These odd, blobby ones are called "irregular" galaxies. The sun and other stars in out galaxy orbit around the center of the galaxy due to gravitational forces, it is assumed that a supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy (and other spiral galaxies) provides the mass for a good portion of the gravitational field.. About half of all spiral galaxies appear to be rotating clockwise and the other half counterclockwise. To be sure, we live in a spiral galaxy, but there are also elliptical (rounded without spiral arms) and lenticulars (sort of cigar-shaped). Long-lived stars will move in and out of the spiral arms as they orbit the galaxy.

Star formation occurs in the spiral arms because the gas clouds are compressed in the arms to form stars.

Galaxies are composed of stars, dust, and dark matter, all held together by gravity. Our Milky Way galaxy is one of these spinning structures and its entire disc of stars, gas and dust is rotating at around 168 miles per second.

They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and ages.

Spiral galaxies, such as the Milky Way, consist of a flat disk with a bulging center and surrounding spiral arms.

Like more than two-thirds of the known galaxies, the Milky Way has a spiral shape.

And it’s all held together by gravity.

Galaxies like our own, and like M33, are tens to hundreds of thousands of light-years across.



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