Swift/UVOT UV image of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Credit: NASA/Swift/S. Immler (Goddard) and M. Siegel (Penn State)


The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (the LMC and SMC, respectively) are named for Ferdinand Magellan, since they were reported during his circumnavigation of the world. They were, however, known since ancient times, since they are strikingly visible as glowing clouds which can be readily seen by observers in the southern hemisphere. The MC's are individual galaxies in their own right, bound by gravity to our own (and much larger) Milky Way. As galaxies go, they are our nearby neighbors: the LMC is about 163,000 light-years away, and the SMC 200,000 light-years away. The image above shows the first-ever mosaic in ultraviolet light of the LMC obtained by the UV and Optical Telescope aboard the Swift space observatory. This UV image highlights the locations of massive stars and regions of star formations, like the Tarantula Nebula which shows up as the bright object in the upper left of the image. This image contains nearly 1 million individual UV sources, and will enable global studies of how stars are born and evolve across each galaxy.
Published: June 10, 2013

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 17-Jun-2013 06:26:03 EDT