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!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.