Yes, the Milky Way is really white
This galaxy that resembles the Milky Way may be a close approximation of what our galaxy looks like from a distance.
January 11th, 2012
11:20 AM ET

Yes, the Milky Way is really white

We've been calling it the Milky Way, but its true color has actually been unknown. Now, a team of scientists has determined more precisely that our galaxy is indeed white.

The Milky Way is the color of snow when viewed one or two hours after dawn, says Jeffrey Newman, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh. Newman and colleagues set out to put the Milky Way in context in terms of its color.

"The Milky Way is well within range you would see as white," Newman says, adding that it is bluer than light from an incandescent bulb, but redder than sunlight at noon.

The scientists used the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which has data on nearly a million other galaxies out there, to look at 1,000 galaxies that resemble the Milky Way in the number of stars and the rate at which new stars are being born. These are factors that relate to the overall color of the galaxy. It's easier for scientists to see the color of other galaxies than the color of our own, since they can't actually travel outside of it to view it from a distance.

It appears that every year, somewhere in the Milky Way, about two new stars on average come into being. They tend to form in clouds of gas and dust throughout the galaxy, and a single cloud can give rise to up to 1,000 stars. The Orion Nebula is an example of a place where new stars are forming, Newman said.

As a galaxy gets older, its light becomes more red. A bluer galaxy would be younger because blue stars are relatively short-lived, Newman explains. By short-lived, he means a few million years, and these massive stars are the ones likely to explode in a supernova. But for stars less than eight times the mass of the sun, a star instead sheds its outer layer and becomes a white dwarf.

Our galaxy, which about 100,000 light-years across, has stars as much as 13 billion years old. When you look up at sky, even on the clearest night in the desert you are only seeing stars as much as a couple thousand light years away. Andromeda, the closest galaxy to the Milky Way, is more red, meaning it's older and further toward its retirement. It will shut down its star formation faster than the Milky Way.

The research was presented Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas.

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Filed under: In Space
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Alice

    Yes, it is ~26,140 years old, but it has been 140 years since we first recorded the event of the sorupneva. What it appears to us as is a 140 year old sorupneva. For all we know, more could have happened since then, but we won't know until the light gets here. Relativity tends to make a mess out of things, so it's easier to simply talk about events as they appear on our light cone .

    April 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  2. Malcolm X^2

    Such a racist point of view! As all solar systems, galaxies, and indeed the universe itself are composed of empty space, the predominant color of everything known to man would be black. And that only takes into account the 5% of matter we can understand. When you include 'dark' matter and 'dark' energy, 'white' light is utterly insignificant in the greater scheme of things. Just another case of 'the man' trying to keep the truth hidden through its control of the media and educational resources – slanting terminology to promote the false ideology that all things good are white and to suppress the truth while maintaining a symbolic foot on the throat of the oppressed masses. Incredibly disheartening that as Martin Luther King Jr. day approaches, we are still 'light years' away from a galaxy being judged (and labeled) by the content of its composition rather than the color of its light.

    January 14, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Ian

      It's not a racist perspective; the light the galaxy gives off is a collection if the full visible spectra, giving it a white color. And it is a snow-esque white, not skin white.

      January 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Ian

      Also, to point out further inaccuracies in your argument, if the galaxies were made of nothing, then there would be nothing to look at, and we wouldn't exist. Furthermore, the 95% of matter you are talking about has no color; it is completely invisible and intangible to the human eye and body. Also, there is no "white light." Also, if there is no light, which would occur if you were right about the universe being made of nothing, there would be no color. Get your facts straight before you start screaming racist.

      January 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  3. Mike

    Let's shed a little light on this...Perhaps humanity's largest problem is that they don't know what they don't know.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  4. Joshua

    It seems to me, that if we want to find other life-forms out there, we should aim our telescopes, radio transmitters at the red galaxies because they would have the greatest chance, concentration of evolved life. Aliens, man!

    January 12, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  5. palintwit

    You can always spot Sarah Palin when there's a meteor shower. She's the one with the umbrella.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  6. james

    I wanna' see Rainbow Colors–Disappointed–

    January 12, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  7. dtothej

    Your article states, "They tend to form in clouds of gas and dust throughout the solar system, and a single cloud can give rise to up to 1,000 stars." I believe you meant, "... throughout the galaxy..."

    January 12, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  8. AL

    "They tend to form in clouds of gas and dust throughout the solar system".... I think this article means to say, "throughout the galaxy".... just sayin...

    January 12, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • elandau

      You are correct. I had meant to say "galaxy" not "Solar system." This has been fixed. Thanks.

      Elizabeth Landau, CNN

      January 12, 2012 at 9:19 am |
      • AL

        Thanks! Sorry I know the comments on here can be a bit harsh but I'm always glad to see articles like this presented to the masses and not just hidden away in scientific journals.

        January 12, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  9. CannonOwner

    Just a clarification of nomenclature: While a galaxy is indeed a system of stars, a star system is the semantic equal to a solar system, and refers to a star (or stars, in the case of binary or trinary systems) and associated bodies bound to it/them by gravity. In other words, our star system is not the Milky Way, but rather our sun with its myriad planets, moon, asteroids, comets and dust.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • CannonOwner

      ... oops ... moons, not moon ...

      January 12, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Tim

      According to the Oxford dictionary, a star system is: a large number of stars with a perceptible structure; a galaxy.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  10. Darth Medicus

    Matthew Cottrell wrote:

    "This paragraph simply defies explanation. Evidence again that the writer is clueless."

    Actually Matthew, you are the clueless one. The author is dead on with her description, and if you had any common sense, and the ability to read, you would have known this to be a true description regarding the red shift of Andromeda. My only quibble is her use of the term "solar system," which more properly refers to an individual system. I think that the statement regarding them forming in gas clouds referred to what happens in the galaxy as a whole.

    Now, come back when you have actually done some research.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  11. Blackjack Bill

    The point of the article is simply that our galaxy would look like this if we could see it through a telescope (presumably from another galaxy). The color would be white; but not just any white. Not bright white nor eggshell white but the white that is the color of snow two hours after dawn.

    Main issues with this:

    1. Humans will never view the Milky Way from a vantage point outside our galaxy.

    2. Anything else out there looking at the Milky Way will have "eyes" (or whatever sense organs they use to detect photons) that certainly evolved completely differently from our photon sense organs. Maybe their "eyes" view largely infrared, or ultraviolet, or maybe some of both.

    However, for those arguing that the author doesn't know what she's talking about ... if you can't understand this article, maybe you oughta stick with comic books.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Rob

      Good point. However I think that humans with advancing technology will be able to see our galaxy from a distance. Just may not happen in our lifetime.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Snap

      I certainly live with hope that mankind will indeed conquer the stars eventually. I hope to live long enough so that the technology exists to preserve my DNA so maybe one day I can be brought back to see us flying amongst the stars. All my hard work in life is really towards this goal of mankind's ascension. Never give up hope.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  12. hecep

    If there were alot more brown dwarf stars, this would be The Chocolate Milky Way. Now don't pounce. Okay?

    January 12, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  13. Hot Carl

    We shoulda picked our OWN cotton.😦

    January 12, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  14. Entangled Universe

    I like to think of it more along the lines of an 'everything' that can be represented via a never ending coordinate system. Each point on the coordinate system represents an actual or potential universe. Potential universes can be looked at as empty storage spaces, waiting to be filled. What happens in one universe may impact another point on the coordinate system, another universe. This impact could cause energy, matter, etc. to be expelled from one universe and enter into another. Our universe at one point in time could have been empty, filled with nothingness, then something happened in another universe that caused a singularity to form in ours, and then bang.

    Unfortunately, this leads one to ask, 'Well, was the entire coordinate system ever empty?' I can only answer with what I believe, and that is that there had to have been energy somewhere, at some point in time, existing in some form. It's possible the coordinate system is polar and somehow space time cycles back on itself.

    Also, I believe in a type of 'ether'... energy or vibrations are everywhere and comprise everything. Similar to the way frequencies of energy can come together to create standing waves, these overlapping vibrations can come together in ways to create matter and anti matter. Think of two sine waves, one with phase of 0 representing matter, and one 180 degrees out of phase representing anti matter, if the two come together they cancel out... same way matter and anti matter do. Take that analogy and build upon it and you can come up with protons, electrons, neutrons, etc, all created by interacting vibrations creating types of 'standing waves'.

    Michio Kaku actually describes something very similar to this, which could be used to gain a different perspective on gravity. He has an idea called the 'Hyperspace' which could be looked at in a biblical sense as heaven. All other universes stem from the hyperspace. They happen due to some kind of physical phenomenon that creates a tear in the hyperspace. He believes Gravity actually exists in the hyperspace but is leaked into our universe... Worth googling if you're into this stuff.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  15. dallastexas

    Reading these posts, I have concluded that there is no intelligent life on earth.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Dave

      Agreed! But I still don't understand the statement "The Milky Way is the color of snow when viewed one or two hours after dawn." Once the sun comes up I can no longer see the Milky Way. Am I missing something here?

      January 12, 2012 at 8:02 am |
      • citizenUSA

        Never mind not being able to see the galaxy after sunrise. How would the galaxy be subject to a sunrise? Is there a sun for the galaxy? Surely they don't mean the effect from our sun. If that were true it would not make sense because there is always a sunrise on some planet, hence the galaxy would always be looking white. Obviously I'm no rocket scientist but does that sound reasonable?

        January 12, 2012 at 8:17 am |
      • Jojo

        I think the statement is referring to the color of snow when viewed one or two hours after dawn, not viewing the Milky Way one or two hours after dawn

        January 12, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  16. aryanhater

    Uranus is a filthy beast too. I should know!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  17. Dan W

    That looks blue to me.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  18. Alex

    Bow to your God Jesus,I guess

    January 12, 2012 at 6:22 am |
  19. yeah that's right

    Sorry, Was met for the Twinkie article.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:43 am |
  20. The R.O.T.P.

    as fragile as spit on a wall.....

    January 12, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  21. yeah that's right

    God is good, God is Great, and I thank him for this food... Amen

    January 12, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  22. Fathergrabitall in Canada

    To T34,Kishore,Clearfrog etal, While I find the dialogue amusing and intriguing I would add to the bemusement that its all just a case of MIND OVER "Matter"-if one doesn't MIND-it doesn't MATTER !

    January 12, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  23. ConfucianScholar

    I was fresh out of engineering school when I decided to make my own low-budget super collider. All I ended up with was a totaled toyota and the same unanswered questions.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  24. WHITE SAMBO

    Jus aks da Baby Jeebus...he know

    January 12, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  25. Island Alpha

    I prefer a Baby Ruth. But a 3 Musketeers will do in a pinch.

    January 12, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Quigley

      Not even a honorary mention for Snickers? What's up with that?

      January 12, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  26. SpaceHead

    A whitehole is what a lot of scientist believe how our universe got started. It's the other side of a blackhole through spacetime. A blackhole is what everything falls into, But on the other end of that blackhole all that stuff comes out from what is called a whitehole.

    January 12, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • clearfog

      Nothingness is unstable.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Kishore

      Nothingness is unstable because something is making it unstable which means nothingness is never actually nothing but always something.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • Quigley

      Speculative at best. And not a lot of scientist believe that proposed idea... although I must confess that I'm intuitively inclined to like the idea of a sort of recycling of mass, energy, etc., which seems to go along with the whitehole model.

      However, more popular concepts include the brane cosmology models (which is closely related to string theory, ), and the Hartle–Hawking no-boundary condition where no singularity is necessary... and there are others.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • Quigley

      If you mean why does anything at all (energy, its associated matter and space, etc.) exist anywhere, that's a philosophy question. Science isn't too good with "why" questions. Not meaning to make your head explode, but many cosmologists believe that nothingness existed prior to the singularity, not matter, space, time, or energy... nothingness. I've duct taped my head to avoid brain splatter on my screen.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • ConfucianScholar

      But the opposite of a black hole is not a white hole but a white protrusion. This would suggest on the other side of the Black hole there is one and no more than one universe as there is no black hole to connected to yet another but a white protrusion to terminate it.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:13 am |
      • galileo

        a black hole is not a hole at all it is a tight ball of matter. It appears as a hole in space because its gravity is so great that it even absorbs light. You can not go through a black hole to the other side. You would merely be squeezed against it.

        January 12, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Timetraveler

      If there exists an opposite end to a black hole, it should be called a white point, not a white hole. By definition, it's an existence of matter at the other end, not another absence.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • Okay Laptop

      Suggesting that there was nothing before there was something is a big assumption. We are applying a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. . . but there's no reason to assume that it how the universe works.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • J

      Nothing is nothing. Nothing has no properties. Nothing cannot be unstable, it cannot be anything. To say that something came from nothing is worse than magic. If a scientist tells you that, you know the emperor has no clothes. Either you have an eternal first cause of an infinite regress of causes. Since time energy matter and space had a finite beginning, the cause of the Universe must be timless, spaceless, unimaginably powerful and transcendent. Hmm..I wonder if anything fits that description..

      January 12, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Entangled Universe

      I like to think of it more along the lines of an 'everything' that can be represented via a never ending coordinate system. Each point on the coordinate system represents an actual or potential universe. Potential universes can be looked at as empty storage spaces, waiting to be filled. What happens in one universe may impact another point on the coordinate system, another universe. This impact could cause energy, matter, etc. to be expelled from one universe and enter into another. Our universe at one point in time could have been empty, filled with nothingness, then something happened in another universe that caused a singularity to form in ours, and then bang.

      Unfortunately, this leads one to ask, 'Well, was the entire coordinate system ever empty?' I can only answer with what I believe, and that is that there had to have been energy somewhere, at some point in time, existing in some form. It's possible the coordinate system is polar and somehow space time cycles back on itself.

      Also, I believe in a type of 'ether'... energy or vibrations are everywhere and comprise everything. Similar to the way frequencies of energy can come together to create standing waves, these overlapping vibrations can come together in ways to create matter and anti matter. Think of two sine waves, one with phase of 0 representing matter, and one 180 degrees out of phase representing anti matter, if the two come together they cancel out... same way matter and anti matter do. Take that analogy and build upon it and you can come up with protons, electrons, neutrons, etc, all created by interacting vibrations creating types of 'standing waves'.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • FalkorandJeebusWillSaveUs

      Falkor and Jeebus created something and the universe when they defeated Nothing at the Battle of Hastings. Jeebus rode on Falkor's back smoting Nothing with his magical Jeebus powers and Falkor's maagical blue fire breath. The bible and Michael Ende say so- so it must be true.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • James

      Wouldn't the opposite of a black hole be a white cork?

      January 12, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  27. Benson

    Some of the comments here are enlightening lol

    January 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  28. mdmann

    God, this article reads as if were written by a middle school student as part of some physical science assignment! If this Elizabeth Landau person is the one who wrote this...HONEY, please either get a different job or learn how to write! The first rule of writing is to actually understand what you are writing about.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • i like to right

      @ mdmann....Donte you hav nethin beter to due then kritisise writors?

      January 12, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • clearfog

      I stopped reading after "God."

      January 12, 2012 at 12:43 am |
      • i like to right

        hahaha

        January 12, 2012 at 1:06 am |
      • XO

        God read both of your remarks – Galatians 6:7

        January 12, 2012 at 3:49 am |
      • Starstruck

        Too much for your "brain" to process?

        January 12, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  29. CaptainDorkOfTheWeeniePatrol

    It's not surprising that the Milky Way is a little off-white. What would be surprising is it it were otherwise.

    Appreciate that we are talking about the visible spectrum and of all of the detectable energy that the Milky Way contains, the eye can detect only a very tiny portion.

    Our eyes are designed to function well for our needs given that we are illuminated by a yellow star.

    The article does contain some inaccuracies and some grammatical errors but the point is that scientists think they know what color the Milky Way is.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • CaptainDorkOfTheWeeniePatrol

      There are several requirements:

      – You must contribute, in a focused and relevant manner, and with manners, to the posts here at "light years."
      – You must ignore the trollers and refuse to engage.
      – You must point out errors, both substantial and grammatical, in the articles with respect for the author.
      – You must assert that root beers are far superior to the frozen, contaminated, vile Blizzard®.

      The men and women who serve under me abide by these rules and we strive to identify and neutralize the weenies who post here simply to kick the ant pile and be rude because they have nothing to contribute in a way that appeals to those of us who have an IQ higher than asphalt.

      So it is written, so let it be done.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  30. Dan

    Can this article please be rewritten to reflect the actual science that is supposed to be conveyed? Critical problem, a solar system (ours or other) is not a galaxy. A galaxy is composed of hundreds of billions of solar systems, saying that every year several stars form within the solar system is so inaccurate as to invalidate anything else the article says.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • CaptainDorkOfTheWeeniePatrol

      Well said, but a little harsh.🙂

      The main point is that scientists are reporting the color of the Milky Way.

      The narrative that surrounds those findings do not change the findings.

      I do agree that the article needs to be cleaned up for exactly the reasons yo state.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
      • Dan

        Agree with your points, I am being a bit harsh on them but this is not the first time they have had the galaxy=solar system issue. That is called being wrong by a factor of 200,000,000,000. Your point of the poor relaying of the finding does not change them is completely correct, but this article makes it rather difficult to figure out what those findings actually are.

        January 12, 2012 at 1:05 am |
      • Starstruck

        Harsh? These fools are being paid to write material which will (arguably) be read worldwide. We should not expect this type of writing.

        January 12, 2012 at 4:42 am |
      • LuisWu

        You weren't harsh enough. Ignorance of the subject you're writing about is inexcusable. But very typical of the non-scientific media.

        January 12, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Barb

      They were talking about the color of Milky Way Galaxy, which our Solar System is part of. I didn't see anywhere in the article that said our "Solar System" was white.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Grammarian

      Grrr... I completely agree. Does CNN even care about its science section? It seems that a lot of articles I read have shoddy grammar, and are full of inaccuracies. It's bad enough when someone calls another star system a "solar system," but calling a GALAXY a solar system? Or even a star system? Maybe a "system of stars," at least. Yeesh!

      January 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • joe

      What?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • DVader

      If a nebulae was to be considered a " solar system ", then a thousand stars could be contained within.
      Just because our sola system, Sol, has one star does not mean that it is the only reference for a given
      system even though I would say that a nebulae would be more of a star " group " than a solar system.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:26 am |
      • CTYank

        "Nebulae" is PLURAL of "nebula." Not like you'd be interested, though.

        January 12, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • JohnR

      The solar system isn't referenced in the article at all. It says that on average, two new stars are born in the Milky Way, which is our galaxy, every year. And no, a nebula is not a solar system and the article didn't say that nebulae are solar systems.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:30 am |
      • Josh

        It does use the term "our star system", which I think is an equivalent term for solar system.

        January 12, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Dan

      You fixed it! Thanks CNN for listening, the article is much better now. Stars are now formed out of clouds of gas in the galaxy and the scale of the article is correct throughout.

      Thank you.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  31. SpaceHead

    This is kinda old news. Scientist already knew the color of the universe was Beige like 6 years ago. There are also a lot of white holes and black holes in the universe.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Andrew

      White holes? Define your use of the word 'scientist' because it seems out of step with any use I'm currently aware of.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • LuisWu

      I think ecru would be more accurate.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  32. oneSTARman

    I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking these servants of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the descent of the Holy Ghost, by the coming of our Lord for judgment, that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure. I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • joie

      argh!

      January 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • A Bystander

      Okay, put a sock in it Sambo X. Can’t you see oneSTAR has a mental problem? Not nice to make fun now. And, if you are an unclean spirit for goodness sake take a bath!

      January 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  33. Black Is Beautiful

    I don't have a problem with the white milky way either. After all, the White House is white too but it was built by African slaves and today the White House is home to our nation's first Black President and First Lady. Hey, after all white is beautiful too. Hahahahaha!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Michael J.

      You're a moron.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  34. Mike

    Reading and compehending are two seperate struggles.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  35. Squanto X

    I don't believe this for one second. The Milky Way is quite plainly Native American, and any other claim is not just racist, but absurd.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  36. Mike

    Colors,all are not what you would expect. To the human eye, an object that is red, actually consists if evey color except red. You see, the red is refective off. A black truck likewise is composed of every color, execpt ack, as black if reflected off and this is what your human eye can see. A while person is really not white, but every color of the rainbox, except white.. white is reflected.
    Thus white people are black and black people are white. Red people are everythign excecpt red. Get it?

    January 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Mv

      You mean an object that is not self illuminating. Light emitting objects, like stars, do not need reflected light. In fact, most of your post is incorrect. An object does not contain colors.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • ConfucianScholar

      So Obama is not the first black president, but the first white president. And Bush was the 43rd black.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:09 am |
    • Saywat

      So is today opposite day? Or was that yesterday?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • Mike(another)

      ike, the irony here is that, while trying to sound smart, you expose just how dumb you are. (But that still doesn't mean white is black, or that smart is dumb)

      Let's say a red surface absorbs all colours but spectral red (so that we can ignore the intricacies of color combination due to limitation of our visual system). That still does not make the surface "anything but red". It's still a red surface, as that's the very definition of red for reflective surfaces, because the light reflected and entering your eyes is (spectral) red.

      Don't try to sell of ideas you did not understand in the first place.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:19 am |
      • Mike

        Hum..
        Years ago, I remember scuba diving in about 80' of clean, blue water. I had cut my hand on sharp coral and was amazed that the blood exiting the wound was bright green. The water had diffused the red specurm. Thus, I believe that COLOR doesn't exist. It is but a perception of the human eye. What color is something when there is no light for our brain to refernce it to?
        Perhaps in this case, everything is black?

        January 12, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  37. Matthew Cottrell

    (SNIP) "They tend to form in clouds of gas and dust throughout the solar system...."

    This is an idiotic statement which shows that the so-called reporter has no idea what he or she is talking about.

    (SNIP) "Our galaxy, which about 100,000 light-years across, has stars as much as 13 billion years old. When you look up at sky, even on the clearest night in the desert you are only seeing stars as much as a couple thousand light years away. Andromeda, the closest galaxy to the Milky Way, is more red, meaning it's older and further toward its retirement. It will shut down its star formation faster than the Milky Way. "

    This paragraph simply defies explanation. Evidence again that the writer is clueless.

    And the race remarks (while some of them are humorous) show that the average readers of CNN articles are also imbeciles. Or does CNN plant these comments on purpose?

    January 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Rich

      "And the race remarks (while some of them are humorous) show that the average readers of CNN articles are also imbeciles. Or does CNN plant these comments on purpose?"

      I'm thinking the kid's up past his bedtime.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Jas

      You are correct sir

      January 11, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  38. oneSTARman

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZFLKXINNns&w=420&h=315]

    January 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZFLKXINNns&w=640&h=390]

      January 11, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  39. Mennoknight

    Me grammer gooder than yours is, that be the truth!

    January 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • MaryO

      Ewe donut spel so gud! Eye donut tink ewe goed to skul at da unibercity! Ewe am cray cray.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  40. IntheUSA

    In the physics sense, "white" is not a color. It is what the human eye "perceives" as the combination of all wavelengths of light from about 400 nm (deep violet) to 700 nm (deep red); that is, the sum total of all colors is what we call in English "white." It is ridiculous to discuss racism in response to such an article.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  41. oneSTARman

    TIGER, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire? And what shoulder and what art Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand and what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? What dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp? When the stars threw down their spears, And water'd heaven with their tears, Did He smile His work to see? Did He who made the lamb make thee? Tiger, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    January 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      – William Blake

      January 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  42. Joe

    Interesting article!

    People just see words and quickly associate the first meaning they can think about that word instead of how the sentences are formed and the information being conveyed by the author.

    If you claim this article to be racist and also for the people that are and will presume the word "White" being used as racist... stop using products and services that resemble and use this color.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      Wouldn't that Be Even More Hilarious Than Freedom Fries

      January 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  43. svann

    Except I bet they didnt count the black holes in that.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  44. svann

    Stars are gay. Just ask George Takei.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • rc roeder

      was that really need?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
      • svann

        Why? Is that word offensive to you? Sorry wasnt meant to be.

        January 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  45. Dug

    Even though this article is in NO way racist – THAT was one funny quote. Had me laughing for a while 🙂

    January 11, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  46. Stan

    Such BS, ofcourse the color has to be WHITE, isn't that the skin color of the people who "discovered" such, the same people who told us America was "discovered" by white people. Let me think... I'll rather wait for the opinions of non-white scientists, these guys have too much white power history that it is impossible to trust them with something like this.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • CB21029

      Are you really an idiot, or do you just talk like one?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • klrcraig

      You sir are an idiot

      January 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Chris

      racist much?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Robert G

      So planet Mars must be discovered by a red skinned or haired person, and in the beginning, our own planet Earth by someone with a blue colour.
      I really didn't know we have such a colourfull human races in the world

      January 12, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  47. waka

    Let all racists compromise. White galaxies are in Black deep space🙂

    January 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • rc roeder

      i gather you think writing like that is funny, not really it just annoying. I gather you were the class clown in high school.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  48. John John

    Actually the color depends on which direction it is going.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Andrew

      No it doesn't, that's an oversimplification of the idea of red and blue shift. You could have a red giant moving to us at some speed, and it would appear slightly more blue than its actual color, but still have the colors appear as part of the red part of the spectrum. "Redshift" and "blueshift" don't refer to colors, but rather, the direction that the spectrum goes depending on your velocity. A red object would have to be moving to us very very quickly to appear blue.

      And since we're actually in the milky way, there's essentially a 0 difference in relative velocity, so any redshift/blueshift is fairly negligible.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • joe

      Doesn't matter what direction it's moving...your inside it so that's irrelevant

      January 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • John John

      Everything is relative.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Apex

      The color is what someone would see from the outside so yes, it does depend on the direction as almost nobody outside would be at a constant distance from the milky way. From my dimension it is a purple shift.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  49. watcher

    I am sick of everyone bringing race into everything grow up already and don't get all excited because someone said it was a color you don't like

    January 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • rc roeder

      i agree

      January 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Yid X

      Oh calm down Ape, we are just having fun. But hey, if you need something to calm with I can get it for you wholesale. Such a deal I got for you!

      January 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
      • Sean

        A troll calling someone an ape… you made my day sir. lol

        January 12, 2012 at 8:44 am |
      • Yid X

        Actually, my bad. I was replying to someone in defence of the humorous posts, mistakenly addressed ApeX, but glad to have given you a chuckle anyway.

        January 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  50. matte

    Why would the colors of a solar system that is decaying be racist? stop reading to deaply into articles of vast interest. people need to consentrate on more of what lies ahead in our future. bring peace to the table not hatred.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  51. elwood

    Speaking as an astronomer there is so much factually wrong with this article its hard to know where to start.
    1) Andromeda galaxy is several million light years away and it is visible naked eye, thus one can certainly see
    objects that are more than a few thousand light years away
    The magellanic clouds are also naked eye visible and are about 150 thousand light years distant.
    2)Next time you see a star form in our solar system, let me know....
    sigh

    January 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Andrew

      Several million? I thought it was only about 2.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • taildragon

      The author was referring to individual stars. "When you look up at sky...you are only seeing stars as much as a couple thousand light years away"

      January 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
      • Sean

        Elwood is correct, regardless of what the author MENT to say. Stars are what make galaxies the same way trees make a forest. The article is very poorly written.

        January 12, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  52. bobby

    this artical is racist

    January 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  53. ill

    "They tend to form in clouds of gas and dust throughout the solar system"
    uh... since when do we have nebulae in the our solar system?

    January 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Gregg

      Yeah, some of this article's terminology is a bit off.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  54. Truefax

    Racists.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm |

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