Thousands of images were assembled into seamless portraits of the main body of each galaxy to produce the highest-resolution surveys of the Magellanic Clouds at ultraviolet wavelengths. The project was proposed by Stefan Immler, an astronomer at Goddard.
The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, or LMC and SMC for short, lie about 163,000 and 200,000 light-years away, respectively, and orbit each other as well as our own Milky Way galaxy.
Compared to the Milky Way, the LMC has about one-tenth its physical size and only 1 percent of its mass. The SMC is only half the size of the LMC and contains about two-thirds of its mass.
The new images reveal about a million ultraviolet sources within the LMC and about 250,000 in the SMC.
Viewing in the ultraviolet allows astronomers to suppress the light of normal stars like the sun, which are not very bright at these higher energies, and provide a clearer picture of the hottest stars and star-formation regions.
Only Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope, or UVOT, is capable of producing such high-resolution wide-field multi-color surveys in the ultraviolet. The LMC and SMC images range from 1,600 to 3,300 angstroms, UV wavelengths largely blocked by Earth's atmosphere.
The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are readily visible from the Southern Hemisphere as faint, glowing patches in the night sky. The galaxies are named after Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who in 1519 led an expedition to sail around the world. He and his crew were among the first Europeans to sight the objects. All visible light imagery provided by Axel Mellinger, Central Michigan University.
This video is public domain and can be downloaded at:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11293
Credit: Science - NASA, ESA, A. Fox, P. Richter et al.
Image - D. Nidever et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF, A. Mellinger, LAB Survey, Parkes, Westerbork, and Arecibo Obs.
Balancing boulders and the Magellanic Clouds, 9/11/2013
The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are small satellite galaxies of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Along with the Andromeda Galaxy they are the only objects you can easily see with only your own unaided eyes that are outside of our galaxy. Being close to the South Celestial Pole the Magellanic Clouds are best seen from the Southern Hemisphere.
Canon 5D MkII, 14mm, F/2.8, ISO 1600, Single 25 Second Exposure, 35% illuminated Moon is lighting up the landscape. Some of you may recognise this rock formation from my panorama image "The Sentinel"