How to Make a Milky Way: the Ultimate Galactic Recipe I NOVA Now Universe Revealed

Satellites, space observatories, and supercomputers have shown astronomers the ingredients needed to form a galaxy. Spoiler: Dark matter is a must.

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When our ancestors looked up into the night sky, they too saw a great, glimmering band of light splitting the darkness. In Southeast Asia, people called it “the Silver River.” In Southern Africa, “the Backbone of the Night.” And in the West, around 2,500 years ago, it earned the name “the Milky Way.”

Across the globe, civilizations had theories of what the band of light was and why it was there. But only recently have humans had the tools to get the full picture. Today we know the Milky Way is our galaxy: two spiral arms filled with more than 100 billion stars, all rotating around a supermassive black hole. And here on our little blue planet, we’re in the middle of it all. Dr. Alok Patel speaks with two galaxy experts to find out how scientists have built the first high-resolution, three-dimensional map of the Milky Way—and what that map reveals about the formation and future of our galactic home.

NOVA Now Universe Revealed is a production of GBH and PRX. It’s produced by:
Terence Bernardo
Jennie Cataldo
Ari Daniel
Caitlin Faulds
Jocelyn Gonzales

Julia Cort and Chris Schmidt are the co-Executive Producers of NOVA
Sukee Bennett is Senior Digital Editor
Christina Monnen is Associate Researcher
Robin Kazmier is Science Editor
Robert Boyd is Digital Associate Producer
Shyla Duff is Digital Video Intern
And Devin Maverick Robins is Managing Producer of Podcasts at GBH

Thanks to our guests Hakeem Oluseyi, author of A Quantum Life, and Dennis Whyte, director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

© WGBH Educational Foundation 2021
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