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You made a spiral galaxy!

This video works with the hologram projector given out at the Galaxy Makers exhibition. You can find a little tutorial on how to use it here.

Congratulations on making a galaxy! You can watch a fly around video of your model galaxy here. If you have a pyramid projector and you are viewing this on your phone then select "hologram video" and play in full-screen mode. You need to make sure your phone is playing the movie horizontally (i.e., hold the phone in front you horizontally before laying it flat). The holograms look best in a dark room with the phone brightness on full (see here for an example of how to use your pyramid). To find out more about your galaxy and how it compares to real galaxies use the buttons below.

Take a closer look

Hubble Simulation

Here is an image of your model spiral galaxy and also an image of a real spiral galaxy (the Pinwheel Galaxy) taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. You can slide between the two to compare. Spiral galaxies get their name from their shape which look like, you guessed it, a spiral! In the real galaxy you can see that the young blue (hot) stars in the spiral arms with a yellower central "bulge" containing older (red/yellow) stars. In the model galaxy you can see something similar but due to the difficultly of making a perfect model the details are not perfect. In the centre of your galaxy (and the real one!) there is a supermassive black hole. These objects contain the same amount of material as millions to billions of stars but all crammed into an incredibly small space. When lots of material falls onto these black holes they can become the brightest objects in the Universe, shining like a beacon at the centre of these galaxies. Did you know that we live in a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way?

Image Credit: ESA, NASA, CFHT & NOAO; K.D. Kuntz (GSFC), F. Bresolin (University of Hawaii), J. Trauger (JPL), J. Mould (NOAO), Y.-H. Chu (University of Illinois, Urbana), Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble), J.-C. Cuillandre/Coelum, George Jacoby, Bruce Bohannan, Mark Hanna/NOAO/AURA/NSF

What is inside my galaxy?

Here is your unique pie chart for your model spiral galaxy that shows you a break down of what your galaxy is made from (by weight). Your galaxy contains lots of young stars (compared to old stars), which is typical for a spiral galaxy. Compared to some other galaxies, spiral galaxies usually contain plenty of gas and dust which may create more stars in the future. However, you can see that the biggest segment represents dark matter. Find out more about these ingredients on the next few pages.

Learn more about the stars

Stars are big balls of very hot gas that produce their own light. Big galaxies contain billions of stars of different sizes and colours. Old stars are usually redder than young stars because stars get colder as they start to run out of fuel. However, some of the heaviest stars end their lives in gigantic explosions called supernovae. Look at the image of your model galaxy and notice where most of the blue (young) stars are found.

What about the gas?

Gas and dust are an important part of galaxies because they are the materials that stars are made from. Spiral galaxies contain a large supply of gas and dust and therefore lots of new stars can be made. In the picture you can see gas around a galaxy, viewed from very far away. This picture was made with a computer and the colours are not real but tell you about the temperature of the gas (hot gas is shown in red). Gas falls onto the galaxy from large distances. This gas will go on to form more stars in the future unless something stops it from getting cold enough to clump together, such as exploding stars or the supermassive black hole.

What about the dark matter?

Did you know that most of the material in the Universe is made of dark matter? Dark matter is the name that we give to matter or "material" that we cannot see and appears to be made up of something other than the regular materials we know about. Astronomers know that this extra dark matter must be present because of the strong effect that its gravity has on light and other objects nearby. This picture shows what the dark matter may look like surrounding a galaxy viewed from a very large distance if you had a special "dark matter" telescope. This model image was made using a computer and the colours are not real; however, bright colours show you where lots of dark matter should be found. Most of the stars in a model galaxy would only found in the central bright region of this picture.

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