Milky Way Lives Up To Its Name: Galaxy Is 'White As Snow' (PICTURES)

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The Milky Way illuminates the sky above the dome of the Danish 1.54-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile
The Milky Way illuminates the sky above the dome of the Danish 1.54-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile

A team of scientists have determined the true colour of the galaxy is so white it would resemble fresh snow to the human eye.

Astronomers from the University of Pittsburg announced the findings at the 219th American Astronomical Society meeting, after making comparisons between star types in other galaxies.

They used the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to examine the properties of nearly a million galaxies and the rate at which new stars are being born – all of which are factors which relate to the overall colour of a galaxy.

Professor Jeffrey Newman and graduate student Timothy Licquia then used the average colour of similar galaxies to infer the colour of the Milky Way.

Most galaxies can be broadly split into two colour categories – red, which rarely form new stars and blue where stars are still being born.

The newest measurements place the Milky Way near the centre of the two classes.

The findings are significant because it has previously been too difficult to observe the colour of the Milky Way because we are in the middle of it.

Professor Newman told the BBC: “The best description I can give would be that if you looked at new spring snow, which has a fine grain size, about an hour after dawn or an hour before sunset, you’d see the same spectrum of light that an alien astronomer in another galaxy would see looking at the Milky Way.”

See amazing photos of the night sky below.

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Milky Way - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Milky Way - Universe Today

Astronomers weigh in on Milky Way's true colours