Large Magellanic Cloud
Image of a galaxy close to the Milky Way is captured in Chile
The exceptional skies of the north of Chile made it possible to achieve a new milestone for world astronomy: a mosaic of images of one of the galaxies that are part of the so-called Local Group surrounding the Milky Way.
Monday, June 07, 2010
From the north of Chile, an area known worldwide for its excellent conditions for developing astronomy, experts of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) were able to photograph the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of the galaxies closest to the Milky Way.
The photograph, corresponding to a mosaic of four images taken by the Wide Field Imager installed on the 2.2-meter MPG/ESO telescope installed at the La Silla Observatory, reveals a large amount of globular clusters and brilliant supernova explosions, produced in the Dorado constellation of the LMC, located only 160,000 light years away from the Milky Way. This is a small distance in cosmic terms and will make it possible to study it in detail, revealed an ESO press release.
This will enable knowledge about this galaxy to increase. Up to now it is known that it corresponds to one of the galaxies that form the Local Group surrounding the Milky Way. Although it is huge on a human scale, it is considered to be a dwarf galaxy because its mass is only one-tenth that of the Milky Way and spans over a mere 14,000 light years, a much lower figure than the 100,000 light years of the galaxy in which our planet is located.
The astronomers have revealed that inside the Large Magellanic Cloud spectacular deaths of stars have taken place, in addition to vast globular clusters that correspond to collections of hundreds of thousands of stars joined together by gravity in an almost spherical shape, spanning only a few light years.
This marks yet another set of images captured in Chile that contribute to the development of world astronomy. Prior to this and also from the north of the country, images of a distant galaxy known as SMM J2135-0102 were taken.
Further breakthroughs made from the La Silla Observatory were the discovery of the most primitive stars of the Milky Way, and the capturing of the first image of an extrasolar planet. All these successful forays into the universe have made it possible for Chile to become the site chosen for the installation of the largest telescope in the world.