A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system consisting of stars, stellar remnants, and interstellar medium of gas and dust, and, it is hypothesized, an important but poorly understood component called dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greekgalaxias (γαλαξίας), literally "milky", a reference to the Milky Way. Examples of galaxies range from dwarfs with as few as ten million (107) stars to giants with a hundred trillion (1014) stars, each orbiting their galaxy's own center of mass.
Galaxies contain varying numbers of star systems, star clusters and types of interstellar clouds. In between these objects is a sparse interstellar medium of gas, dust, and cosmic rays. Observational data suggests that supermassive black holes may exist at the center of many, if not all, galaxies. They are thought to be the primary driver of active galactic nuclei found at the core of some galaxies. The Milky Way galaxy appears to harbor at least one such object.