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Tour a dwarf galaxy

Montage by ESO An image from the European Southern Observatory shows some of the main attractions in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a companion galaxy to our own Milky Way. Click on the image for a larger view.

The dwarf galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud is a favorite destination for astronomers, with lots of attractions to offer. Just last month we featured one of those attractions, the ribbony supernova remnant known as N49. But most folks don't get a chance to see the bigger picture when it comes to the cloud ... so today's image of the whole dwarf galaxy serves as a welcome tour of the neighborhood. The Large Magellanic Cloud is a satellite of our own Milky Way, a mere 160,000 light-years away in the southern constellation Dorado (the Swordfish). It's less than a tenth as massive as the Milky Way, and measures 14,000 light-years across (compared with the Milky Way's breadth of 100,000 light-years). The LMC and its smaller sibling, called the Small Magellanic Cloud, are thought to have morphed from the classic spiral shapes to their current chaotic state due to tidal interactions with our own galaxy. This new mosaic was created using data from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. Take this opportunity to know your galactic neighbor:

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