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The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy that existed in the universe. It is part of the larger grouping of galaxies known as the Local Group. The Milky Way is home to a large number of sentient species, many of which have become technologically advanced enough to achieve spacefaring status.

The Milky Way is comprised of over 400 billion stars and around 100 billion star systems, and in its center is a supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A*. It is 100,000 light-years across and 15,000 light-years deep, with an additional halo of dark matter stretching approximately 400,000 light-years across.

The galaxy is orbited by several smaller galaxies, including the Large Magellanic Cloud, and its closest galactic neighbor is the Andromeda galaxy, some 2.2 million light-years away. By the 32nd century, humanity had charted about a quarter of the Milky Way.

AstrographyEdit

The Milky Way is shaped like a flattened pinwheel. It has four major spiral arms wrapping around a bar-shaped nucleus. This classifies the Milky Way as a barred spiral galaxy. At the galaxy's heart is Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole billions of times more massive than a main sequence star.

Throughout its history, many of the sentient species which evolved in the Milky Way have devised methods of transcending the speed of light in order to sustain a trans-stellar culture. These methods include slipspace, hyperspace, wormhole travel, warp, and space-folding. While the Tier 1 technology of space-folding effectively made spatial organization of the galaxy obsolete, the more common methods of faster-than-light travel are still generally slow enough that dividing the galaxy into a number of sectors, quadrants, and regions is useful or even necessary. A starship traveling at warp factor nine would take more than six decades to travel across one-tenth of the Milky Way and well over a millennium to reach the nearest neighboring galaxy.

Quadrants Edit

The largest sub-division of the galaxy is called a quadrant. A quadrant is a rather arbitrary unit of measurement defined as roughly one quarter of the galaxy. Unless one was located close to the border of a quadrant, Tier 2 and above methods of space travel were mostly restricted to one's own quadrant, simply because of the massive distance separating quadrants. The four quadrants of the Milky Way are the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta Quadrants.

Alpha Quadrant Edit

The Alpha Quadrant is home to the Cardassian Union, the Ferengi Alliance and portions of the United Federation of Planets.

Beta Quadrant Edit

History Edit

The Milky Way was formed around 13,600,000,000 BCE, making it one of the first galaxies to have formed in the known universe.

Somewhat unusually, the galaxy in the 32nd century is enveloped in an energy field known as the galactic barrier. A similar field, the Great Barrier, encloses much of the galactic core. Both fields are neural physics creations made by the Q Continuum to protect the galaxy from, respectively, 0 and the One. These fields were made in imitation of the much stronger fields which had been put in place by the Precursors in ages past, but were destroyed in various ensuing cataclysms. These fields had the effect of making the Milky Way a safe haven from both natural phenomena and any malicious entities, such as the beings described above. Several races, such as the Caeliar, were unwilling to leave the Milky Way, as they would then lose the protection offered by the two barriers.