What are galaxies?

Galaxies are huge collections of stars, dust and gas. They usually contain several million to over a trillion stars and can range in size from a few thousand to several hundred thousand light-years across. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe. Galaxies come in many different sizes, shapes and brightnesses and, like stars, are found alone, in pairs, or in larger groups called clusters. Galaxies are divided into three basic types: spirals, ellipticals and irregulars.


Learn about IRAS, the first infrared telescope launched into Earth's orbit!