The Sun’s location in the Milky Way Galaxy

The Sun's location in the Milky Way Galaxy

The Sun’s location in the Milky Way Galaxy. Fortunately for us, we live in out the “boring” suburbs of the Milky Way. Our Solar System is located in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way (called the Orion Arm) which lies about two-thirds of the way out from the center of the Galaxy.

The location of the Solar System is a safe harbor, compared to many other places in the galaxy. It is located in what astronomers call the “Galactic habitable zone”, the region of a galaxy in which life might most likely develop.

Solar System’s location avoids the galaxy’s perilous inner regions. There are relatively few stars near the Sun. This reduces risks to Earth (or any other planet in the Solar System) from gravitational tugs, supernovae, or gamma-ray bursts.
The unusually circular orbit of our Sun around the galactic center also tends to keep it clear of the spiral arms. Most stars the same age as our Sun have more elliptical orbits. Spiral arms are dangerous places because massive star supernovae are concentrated there, and giant molecular clouds can perturb the Oort cloud comets leading to more comets showers in the inner Solar System.

The Sun’s location in the Milky Way Galaxy. Fortunately for us, we live in out the “boring” suburbs of the Milky Way.

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