Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Large Cloud of Magellan

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The Large Cloud of Magellan

Portuguese navigator
de Magellan
and his crew had plenty of time to study the
southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth.

As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like
objects easily visible for southern hemisphere
skygazers are known as the
Clouds of Magellan.

Of course, these star clouds are now understood to be
dwarf irregular galaxies, satellites of our larger spiral
Milky Way galaxy.

The Large
Magellanic Cloud
pictured above is only about 180,000 light-years distant in
the constellation

Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is
the most massive of the
Milky Way's satellite galaxies
and is the site of the
in modern times.

The prominent red knot on the left is 30 Doradus, or the
Tarantula Nebula, a giant star-forming
region in the
Magellanic Cloud

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