Where, in relation to the entire universe, is the Milky Way located?
I have read lately, that the estimated age of the universe is approx. 11 to 14 billion years, the milky way galaxy is approx. 10 billion years old, and our sun is approx. 4 billion years old. Where, in relation to the entire universe, is the milky way located, and how far in light years is the furthest detected object.
It is difficult to say where in relation to the universe the Milky Way is located since we don't think that the universe has a centre, and that (on large enough) scales it is completely homogeneous and isotropic. On smaller scales the universe contains a lot of structure (for example us!). The largest known structures are the superclusters which form a filamentary network through the universe (see here). The Milky Way galaxy is found in a small group of galaxies (known as the Local Group) towards the edge of a relatively small supercluster which we call the Local Supercluster (or sometimes the Virgo Supercluster after the Virgo Cluster, the largest cluster of galaxies in it).
How far away the furthest detected object is depends on what you call an object. We detect the CMB radiation which comes from the time in the universe when the ions and electrons first formed into atoms. That happened at a redshift of z=1000, or only about 300,000 years after the Big Bang (making it almost 13.7 billion light years away since that's how old the universe is). The furthest galaxy we have detected however is a quasar at a redshift of about z=6, exactly how far away that is depends on your choice of Cosmology, but it's many billions of light years (although obviously closer than the CMB scattering surface).
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 60156 times since July 10, 2002.
Last modified: May 30, 2006 10:10:48 AM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)