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The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

R840/0050

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Credit

DR FRED ESPENAK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR FRED ESPENAK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The Magellanic Clouds. Optical image of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC, left) and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). They are small galaxies in orbit around our own galaxy, the Milky Way. LMC is at a distance of about 160,000 light years from the Earth and its mass is estimated to be some 10 billion times the mass of the Sun. The SMC is about one billion times the mass of the Sun and lies at a distance of about 185,000 light years. Stars in the LMC and SMC are generally younger than the stars in our galaxy and gas and dust are more plentiful in them than in the Milky Way. The bright "star" to the right of the SMC is actually the 47 Tucanae globular star cluster.

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