What is a spiral galaxy?
Spiral galaxies get their name from the shape of their disks. In a spiral galaxy, the stars, gas and dust are gathered in spiral arms that spread outward from the galaxy's center. Spiral galaxys are divided into three main types depending on how tightly wound their spiral arms are: Sa, Sb and Sc. Sa galaxies have very tightly wound arms around a larger central nucleus. Sc galaxies have very loosely wound arms around a smaller nucleus. Sb's are between, having moderately wound arms around an average sized nucleus. Spiral galaxies have a lot of gas, dust and newly forming stars. Since they have a lot of hot, young stars, they are often among the brightest galaxies in the universe. About 20% of all galaxies are spirals. We live in a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way.