Magellanic Cloud

The Large Magellanic Cloud is a nearby galaxy that was once considered an irregular- type galaxy until astronomers studied it more closely. It may have been a spiral. The Large Magellanic Cloud is only visible in the skies of Earth’s Southern Hemisphere , along with its dwarf galaxy known as the Small Magellanic Cloud . The Milky Way is constantly consuming gas that flows from the Magellanic clouds via the Magellanic Current. Eventually these two smaller galaxies could collide with the Milky Way.

What is the Magellanic Cloud?

The Magellanic Cloud is a complex of gas clouds and star clusters that are located in the neighboring galaxy and is the most active star-forming region in the universe.


The main characteristics of the Magellanic Cloud are the following:

  • It can be seen from the southern hemisphere , and is the second closest galaxy to the Small Magellanic Cloud.
  • It is one of the eleven dwarf galaxies that orbit our Milky Way and is considered an irregular galaxy .
  • It is made up of red rocks , stars , clouds of young stars, and a bright visible formation region known as the Tarantula Nebula .
  • The brightest supernova of modern times, SN1987A, exploded in the Magellanic Cloud.
  • It has an extension of approximately 30,000 light years.
  • It is considered the most massive of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies.
  • The prominent reddish knot at the bottom is known as the Tarantula Nebula, which is a star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
  • It is of the interrupted barred spiral type .
  • It has a diameter of 14,000 meters and a distance of 163,000.
  • It has approximately 30 billion stars.


The first mention of the Large Magellanic Cloud that has been mentioned was made by the Persian astronomer ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi Shirazi, who later became known in Europe as Azophi , in his Book of Fixed Stars which he published around the year 964 AD The following observation of the Magellanic Cloud was recorded between the years 1503 and 1504 by Américo Vespucci , information that he left reflected in a letter he wrote about his third trip. In this letter he mentions “three clouds, two bright and one dark.” By the word ” bright ” he refers to the two Magellanic Clouds , and by the word “dark ”refers to a dust nebula that had the appearance of a space in the Milky Way. Ferdinand Magellan sighted the Large Magellanic Cloud on his journey during the year 1519, and his writings brought it to Western knowledge. It is for this reason that the galaxy now bears his name. Measurements with the Hubble Space Telescope , announced in 2006, suggest that the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds may move too fast to orbit the Milky Way.

Large Magellanic Cloud:

The LMC , short for the Large Magellanic Cloud, is recognized as a dwarf galaxy , as a satellite within the Milky Way, and also as a member of the Local Group . It is located 163,000 years old. It is the third galaxy that is located closest to the Milky Way after the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy and the Sagittarius Elliptical Dwarf Galaxy. It can be seen with the naked eye as a faint object in the southern terrestrial hemisphere that is located between the constellations of Dorado and Mensa .

Its position is in the direction of the south pole of the ecliptic and for this reason it is not visible at any time of the year. It is a cloud classified according to the data of objects that NASA has and that is why it is considered as a barred spiral galaxy that does not have any type of structure in its ring . It has a rather irregular appearance and this is due to the interactions it has with the Milky Way and the Small Magellanic Cloud.

It contains millions of stars and its mass is 300,000 million the mass of the sun. Clusters , planetary nebulae , open clusters , and giant and super-giant stars have been found in it .

Small Magellanic Cloud:

It is a dwarf galaxy near the Milky Way that is approximately 200,000 light years distant. It is about 100 times smaller than the Milky Way. It has approximately between 1,000 and 4,000 million stars . It is one of the closest galaxies to the path, forming the Local Group and the Andromeda Galaxy .

Its clouds can be seen from Hawaii at 5 degrees east latitude. It is easier if it can be observed from a dark place. The first observation of the cloud was made by Antonio Pigafetta , on an excursion made by Fernando de Magallanes .

Magellanic Cloud seen from Earth:

The Magellanic Cloud is visible from the southern hemisphere mainly at night when the sky is cloudless and moonless . They can be seen as two small whitish spots , which are in the opposite direction to the constellation of Crux from the point of view of the south celestial pole.

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