Astronomers: Yep, Milky Way Is White
And it has a lot of planets
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2012 8:10 AM CST
This 2011 handout photo provided by the European Southern Observatory, shows the Milky Way above the La Silla Observatory in Chile.   (AP Photo/Zdenek Bardon/ProjectSoft, European Souther Observatory)
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(Newser) – What does the Milky Way look like, from outside the Milky Way? It seems like an impossible question to answer, but astronomers found a way—and discovered in the process that the Milky Way is, as one might have guessed, white. "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," one astronomer explains to the BBC.

They determined the color by looking at star types in other galaxies to find those that closely matched the Milky Way. In addition to determining the color, the process also provided insight as to the galaxy's age. Meanwhile, other astronomers have begun counting the number of planets in the Milky Way—and they now think there are more planets than stars, the AP reports. That's a lot of planets, considering our galaxy has about 100 billion stars. Some of those planets sound like something straight out of science fiction, like planets with two suns or shrunken planets with small suns. Says one astronomer, "We're finding an exciting potpourri of things we didn't even think could exist."