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There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard. Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple life forms.


 Milky Way galaxy extraterrestrial life
A spectacular new computer simulation reveals thousands of dark matter clouds around the Milky Way - but it's not clear why so few of them seeded galaxies.


 Milky Way
Tiny black holes near the galaxy's centre can fling stars out of the Milky Way at break-neck speeds. Previously, only the supermassive black hole there was thought to be able to produce these "hypervelocity" stars. ... predicted in 1988 that the monster black hole at our galaxy's centre should disrupt pairs of stars, capturing one and launching the other out of the galaxy altogether. Since 2004, astronomers have found...


 Milky Way star black hole
... some 5 billion years from now. The Milky Way is expected to merge with the neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy.


 Milky Way
Even if a gamma-ray burst went off in the centre of our galaxy, which is 30,000 light years away, it would still rival the Sun in terms of brightness. And of course, to look at the distant Universe is also to look back in time. "We can see gamma-ray bursts from collapsing stars when the Universe was 5% of its present age," said Prof Mason.


 Milky Way
A remarkable view of our Galaxy has been obtained by Europe's billion-euro Herschel Space Observatory.
 Herschel telescope Milky Way toread
The giant halo of dark matter that surrounds our galaxy is shaped like a flattened beach ball, researchers say. It is the first definitive measure of the scope of the dark matter that makes up the majority of galaxies' masses. The shape of this "dark matter halo" was inferred from the path of debris left behind as the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy slowly orbits the Milky Way.


 Milky Way galaxy dark matter
A controversial theory that challenges the existence of dark matter has been buoyed by studies of gas-rich galaxies.


 cosmology galaxy Milky Way rotation dark matter gravity astrophysics physics
The extraordinary Voyager 1 spacecraft is demonstrating its nimbleness more than 30 years after leaving Earth. At the astonishing distance of 17.4 billion km, the Nasa probe is the most far-flung object made by humans.


 Voyager distance spacecraft space travel NASA probe interstellar travel galaxy Milky Way solar wind heliopause Voyager 1
Astronomers have released what they say is the best-yet picture of NGC 6744, a spiral galaxy described as a "sibling" of our own Milky Way.


 galaxy twin Milky Way photography
Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to work out when precisely our Milky Way Galaxy will crash into its neighbour, Andromeda.


 Milky Way Andromeda galaxy collision future gravity