Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Large Magellanic Cloud

The Large Magellanic Cloud is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way galaxy. It is located 160,000 light-years from Earth and is one of a handful of dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way. The Large Magellanic Cloud is the third closest galaxy to the Milky Way, with the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal and Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy and the fourth largest of the Local Group.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is an irregular galaxy, rich in gas and dust, and it is currently undergoing star formation activity. It has a mass equivalent to approximately 10 billion times the mass of our Sun and a wide range of galactic objects and phenomena. It contains roughly 60 globular clusters, 400 planetary nebulae, and 700 open clusters, along with hundreds of thousands of giant and supergiant stars. On his voyage to find a direct way to the Pacific in 1519, Ferdinand Magellan was the first to bring the Large Magellanic Cloud into common knowledge, as it can be viewed from the Southern Hemisphere.