Space Facts

Magellanic Clouds Facts

The Large & Small Magellanic Clouds – www.eso.org/public/images/b01/

The Large Magellanic cloud is a nearby galaxy once considered to be an irregular type until astronomers studied it more closely. It now turns out to be an irregular with a bar across its heart. It may once have been a spiral. The LMC (as it is known) is visible in Earth’s Southern Hemisphere skies, along with its companion dwarf galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). The Milky Way is consuming gas that is flowing from the Magellanic clouds (in the Magellanic Stream). Eventually these two smaller galaxies might collide with the Milky Way. Both the LMC and the SMC have star-forming regions, and the LMC was the site of the spectacular 1987a supernova explosion.

Large Magellanic Cloud Profile

Designation:LMC
Type:Disrupted Barred Spiral
Diameter:14,000 ly
Distance:163,000 ly
Mass:10 billion M☉
Number of Stars:30 billion
Constellation:Dorado & Mensa
Group:Local Group

Small Magellanic Cloud Profile

Designation:SMC
Type:Dwarf Galaxy
Diameter:7,000 ly
Distance:197,000 ly
Mass:6.5 billion M☉
Number of Stars:3 billion
Constellation:Tucana & Hydrus
Group:Local Group

Facts about the Magellanic Clouds