The research shows the Milky Way is among the reddest of spiral galaxies, meaning that its star-forming days are coming to an end..
"It's entering its retirement when it won't make anything new," Newman said.
Based on the type and number of its stars, the Milky Way turns out to be a very typical galaxy, the analysis shows.
"We find that the color, the spectrum of the Milky Way is very close to the average of all the galaxies we see," Newman said..
That's comforting to astronomers, who ascribe to an idea called the Copernican Principle, which theorizes that just like the Earth isn't the center of the solar system and the sun isn't the center of the galaxy, we shouldn't expect to live in a special galaxy -- at least in terms of the stars it contains.
For the analysis, scientists combined data from about 1,000 galaxies that have a similar number of stars and similar star birthrates as the Milky Way out of nearly 1 million galaxies in the Sloan survey.
"The Milky Way ended up being very bright for a red galaxy, but for all galaxies overall, it seems to be a little less luminous than we think it would be," Timothy Licquia, a graduate student in physics at Pittsburgh, told Discovery News. "We're not sure why."