Small Magallanic Cloud taken by the Hubble-Space Observatory

Small Magallanic Cloud

The Large Magellanic Cloud and its neighbor and relative, the Small Magellanic Cloud, are conspicuous objects in the southern hemisphere, looking like separated pieces of the Milky Way to the naked eye. Roughly 21° apart in the night sky, the true distance between them is roughly 75,000 light-years. Until the discovery of the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy in 1994, they were the closest known galaxies to our own. The LMC lies about 160,000 light years away, while the SMC is around 200,000. One might think that the LMC appears "larger" simply because it lies closer but, in fact, it is about twice the size of the SMC (about 14,000 vs. 7,000 ly.). In contrast, the Milky Way, in which we live, is about 100,000 ly. across.

Observation and theoretical evidence suggest that the Magellanic Clouds have both been greatly distorted by tidal interaction with the Milky Way as they travel close to it. Streams of neutral hydrogen connect them to the Milky Way and to each other, and both resemble disrupted barred spiral galaxies.Their gravity has affected the Milky Way as well, distorting the outer parts of the galactic disk.

Source: - 05.08.2010

Small Magallanic Cloud

Thus we do not know the starry sky – at least not when we only look there with the naked eye.

This detail of the neighbor galaxy starts the series of fascinating pictures of the cosmos – Views in another part of the admirable creation.

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