Amazing Space – Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)

Have you ever heard about LMC?

If no then please draw a sparse attention as this is a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. LMC stands for Large Magellanic Cloud which is in a form of irregular dwarf galaxy and a cohort of our Milky Way. This cloud does not possess any shape like spiral and elliptical galaxies; it has a unique irregular structure.

LMC appears as a giant and diffuse cloud in the southern nighttime sky adjacent to Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). Both of the galaxies LMC and SMC are named in honor of explorer Ferdinand Magellan who occupied their presence in becoming the first to sail beyond universe nearly around 500 years ago.

Large Magellanic Cloud
Large Magellanic Cloud (Image from NASA)

Origin of LMC – Large Magellanic Cloud is the irregular stuff that marks its prestigious and lustrous presence in the night sky. Although, the first recorded word of its position in the sky was noted by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi in the middle of the 10th century. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan that brought it into popularity and for whom the Magellanic Clouds are named.

Image formation of LMC – Some of the information and images about this galaxy has been found from the combination of three telescopes. LMC is a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 160,000 light years from Earth.

  • NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) show hot regions created by these winds and shocks through its X-Rays diffusion.
  • NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (red) outline where the dust and cooler gas are found through the use of infrared data.
  • And the third telescope, 2.2-m Max-Planck-ESO (yellow) in Chile shows where ultraviolet radiation from hot, young stars is causing gas in the nebula to glow with the help of optical light.

Properties of LMC – Large Magellanic Cloud is coarsely 14,000 light-years in diameter similar to approximately 100,000 light-year diameter of the Milky Way and contains approx. 10 billion solar masses. These figures make this LMC the fourth largest galaxy in the local group of universe.

  • LMC is about 160,000 light years away from the Milky Way that makes it third closest galaxy to our own.
  • Large Magellanic Cloud is an active star forming galaxy which makes the stars due to the presence of high gas content.
  • At the other end of spectrum, LMC played host to the closest and brightest supernova 1987a – in the last several centuries.

Will this LMC merge with Milky Way in future?

Most of the researchers suggest that LMC has orbited the Milky Way galaxy at around the same distance for a significant portion of existence. However, the same imitations from researchers suggest that it is also rare condition in which a galaxy comes close to its larger host. It is not revealed yet that what the future will hold as several scientists believe that the Milky Way will eventually consume the much smaller galaxy with cohort like Small Magellanic Cloud. There are two other galaxies in the universe which are too closer to collide with Milky Way first.

It is not revealed by the researchers and scientists that this huge Large Magellanic Cloud will change its irregular shape in near future.



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