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Small Magellanic Cloud and 47 Tucanae

Two objects visible from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere: An irregular dwarf galaxy near our Milky Way, and the second-brightest globular cluster in the sky.

View larger. | Small Magellanic Cloud and 47 Tucanae by Jonathan Green and Amit Kamble. For more, visit Amit's Facebook page.

View larger. | Small Magellanic Cloud and 47 Tucanae by Jonathan Green and Amit Kamble. For more, visit Amit’s Facebook page, and Jonathan’s Facebook page.

Astrophotographers Jonathan Green and Amit Kamble in New Zealand collaborated on this photo, and submitted it to EarthSky. Jonathan captured the image data and Amit processed the image in PixInsight. Amit wrote:

Small Magellanic Cloud is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. It’s thought to be about 200,000 light-years from the sun, and about 75,000 light-years from the Large Magellanic Cloud. That’s pretty close by galactic standards …

The Small Magellanic Cloud is classified as an irregular dwarf galaxy, and careful observations of the proper motions of its stars show that it’s stretched out along the line of sight, probably due to gravitational interactions with the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud. The Small Magellanic Cloud is an important object in astronomical history, it was by measuring the brightness of stars in this galaxy from photographic plates that Henrietta Leavitt discovered the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables.

To the right of the Small Magellanic Cloud, you will see the second-brightest globular cluster in the sky 47 Tucanae. When you look at 47 Tucanae, you’re seeing the light of one million stars packed into a volume of space just 120 light-years across. That makes the heart of 47 Tucanae a very crowded place indeed! 47 Tucanae is thought to be around 16,000 light-years away from our sun, so as you can see it is completely unrelated to the Small Magellanic Cloud and just happens to occupy the same area of sky as the much more distant dwarf galaxy.

Canon 60da at ISO1250 through a Canon 200 mm lens set at f/3.2

The image is made up from 23 1-minute exposures.

Thank you, Amit and Jonathan!

Read more: Small Magellanic Cloud, a nearby dwarf galaxy

Deborah Byrd

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