Clouds of stars – Astronomy Now

CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/SMASH/D. Nidever (Montana State University).

The largest survey to date of the Milky Way’s two main satellites, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC, left, and SMC, above), has resolved a staggering 360 million objects – stars, clusters and nebulae – that reveal these two dwarf galaxies to an unprecedented level Detail.

Visible in the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky, the LMC and SMC are about 163,000 and 200,000 light-years away, respectively — a long way to be sure, but only a short hop compared to the Andromeda Galaxy, which is 2.5 million light-years away. Despite their small size – only 14,000 and 7,000 light-years across – they are rapidly forming stars, particularly the LMC, which has a star-forming region called 30 Doradus, or the Tarantula Nebula (top left of image). LMC image) which is the most intense star-forming region in the entire Local Group of galaxies.

CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/SMASH/D. Nidever (Montana State University).

These detailed images were acquired with the 520-megapixel Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the four-meter Victor M. Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, as part of the Survey of the MAgellanic Stellar History known as Kurz’ SMASH’. As the camera’s name suggests, it typically observes more distant galaxies to measure the strength of the dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe. However, DECam’s superb resolution and wide field of view made it perfect for capturing the vast expanse in the sky of the Magellanic Clouds. Images: CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/SMASH/D. Nidever (Montana State University). Clouds of stars – Astronomy Now

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