One of the most impressing objects in the southern sky at the same time is the
closest galaxy to our earth: The Large Magellanic Cloud. It is situated in the
constellation »Goldfish« (Dorado) and is easily visible with only the naked eye.
The galaxy, like its sister the Small
, is named after the discoverer Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521)
who first mentioned the two objects in his logbook during his circumnavigation
of the world.
The distance to the cloud is estimated to 170 000 light-years to our solar system.
It belongs to the so called »local group«, a gathering of about 30 galaxies in our
closest neighbourhood. The Large Magellanic Cloud has a diameter of approximately
30 000 light-years and consists of about 10 billion stars, which is less than a
tenth of our Milky Way. Watching it through a telescope, many spectacular objects
in it get visible. The »Tarantula Nebula« (30 Doradus) for example, the maybe most
beautiful part of this galaxy. Despite its location a bit off the main star field,
it is assumed to be the centre of the cloud.
Due to its close distance, the Large Magellanic Cloud is of great importance for
astronomy and astrophysics. Much of the basic knowledge on galaxies and the universe
was gathered by observing that region. In 1987 for example the first Supernova (1987A)
could be recorded from here. The inspection of this incident and the evaluation of the
received data is still ongoing today.
<< back to overview