2
$\begingroup$

Wikipedia lists the average thickness of the milky-way to be about 1,000 LY - but where (roughly) within that is the sun currently? In asking this, I'm fully aware that there's no well-defined edge - a rough number is just fine for my purposes.

Also - what direction is the closest edge (i.e. the 'top' or 'bottom' of the disk, not the outer-edge)? E.g. in the direction of Procyon, Tau Ceti, etc.?

(I'm asking because I'm working on a bit of science-fiction, with a couple of scientists looking to directly view the other side of the galaxy in a time where FTL propulsion is available)

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ The closest edge is in the direction exactly opposite that of the center of the milky way. It's about 30,000 ly away from us: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/… $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    May 25, 2013 at 4:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Greg I think the OP is asking for the height of the Sun above the disk, not the distance to the outer radius. $\endgroup$
    – Pulsar
    May 25, 2013 at 4:37

1 Answer 1

6
$\begingroup$

It's not easy to accurately determine the position of the Sun within the Galactic disk, but according to most studies, the Sun is located between 15 and 25 parsec above the Galactic midplane. You can find various estimates in the Introduction of this paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/0704.0950v1.

1 parsec corresponds with 3.26 lightyears, so 20 parsec is about 65 lightyears.

The Galactic north is situated in the direction of Coma Berenices, near the bright star Arcturus (see wikipedia).

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ In other words - we're fairly close (within 10%) to the middle? Thanks for the answer! $\endgroup$
    – john3103
    May 25, 2013 at 14:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My pleasure. Some extra info: according to this article, the Sun oscillates through the plane of the galaxy with an amplitude of about 230 light-years, crossing the plane every 33 million years. $\endgroup$
    – Pulsar
    May 26, 2013 at 14:52

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.