The Milky Way is part of a cluster of galaxies called the Local Group. The three largest galaxies in the Local Group are, in order of size, Andromeda, the Milky Way, and Triangulum. The satellites of these galaxies, plus isolated dwarf galaxies, bring the total population of the Local Group up to about four dozen galaxies. On four to six occasions, the entire Local Group has been occupied by a single civilization, though this has not happened yet with the current civilization, which is limited to the Milky Way and some of the satellites.
The major features of the Milky Way's political geography are the Core, the Old Skies, and the Corridor joining them. The Core is the the largest and most powerful polity in the galaxy. The Old Skies is the vaguely defined region around Earth. The broad region between them, cutting across spiral arms, is called the Corridor. These three regions are the most densely populated and technically advanced part of the galaxy. See the Corridor map.
Other significant regions are Keribor and Anisel Shon to the east of the Corridor, and Rete and the Humanate to the west of it. These are unified polities, the largest except for the Core. See the sections for these individual polities.
In the middle of the Core lies a cluster of giant black holes, with the largest, Sagittarius-A*, known as Saj-A, in the very center. The accretion discs of these black holes give off vast amounts of radiation – too much for organic life to tolerate under most circumstances. This central region is known as the Hard Skies; see the Galaxy map.
The quadrant of the galaxy on the far side of the Core from the Old Skies and Earth is known as the Trans-Sagittarius Region, or the TranSaj. Even the section of the Core near the TranSaj is relatively thinly settled, and, a few light-centuries from the Core, charting becomes very spotty. But there are starfarers out there, who have acquired their technology at several removes from Earth, or who have run off to deliberately lose themselves. See the Galaxy map.
The Magellanic Clouds and other satellite galaxies are even more unknown than the TranSaj, as are the further globular clusters and the thinly scattered stars of the galactic halo. Every once in a while, something surprising is discovered in one of these regions – or comes and discovers us. Reaching these remote regions is a matter of years, even with the best ships, but some explorers have done it.
The view is from the galactic south pole.
The directions of neighboring galaxies are indicated by arrows.
LMG = Large Magellanic Cloud.
SMG = Small Magellanic Cloud.
The original image:
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010