NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 11 February 2023: Stunning Magellanic Clouds | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 11 February 2023: Stunning Magellanic Clouds

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning view of Magellanic Clouds in the night sky over Chile. What is this? Check here.

| Updated on: Feb 11 2023, 12:18 IST
Top NASA Astronomy Pictures of the week: Nebulae to Comet ZTF, check them all
Magellanic Clouds
1/5 Rosette Nebula (Feb 6) - A breathtaking image of a nebula, which is around 5200 light-years away from Earth was featured as the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day on Feb 6. NASA says in the heart of the Rosette Nebula, there lies a bright cluster of stars that light up the nebula. NGC 2244's stars only formed a few million years ago from the surrounding gas. The center of the Rosette Nebula, visible through binoculars in the Monoceros constellation, measures about 50 light-years in diameter.  (NASA/Lyman Insley)
Magellanic Clouds
2/5 Rare Green Comet ZTF (Feb 7) - The Rare Green Comet ZTF passed Earth at its closest distance on February 1 after a period of nearly 50000 years. Along with the comet, two dippers - the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper can also be seen. The Big Dipper is a popular term used to describe the shape formed by the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major or the Great Bear.  (NASA/Petr Horalek/Institute of Physics in Opava)
Magellanic Clouds
3/5 Wind-Shaped Nebula (Feb 8) - NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb 8 is a mesmerizing snapshot of the Stellar Wind-Shaped Nebula RCW 58. It is located nearly 13000 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. The Nebula has a wolf star located in the center, a star which is 100 times as massive as our Sun, a million times more luminous, and with 30 times the surface temperature. When these stars expand, they eject high-speed stellar winds through their outer layer.  (NASA/Mike Selby/Mark Hanson)
Magellanic Clouds
4/5 Nacreous Clouds (Feb 9) - Nacreous Clouds are a type of rare Polar Stratospheric Clouds which form when unusually cold temperatures in the usually cloudless lower stratosphere form ice crystals. NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on Feb 9 is of the stunning Nacreous Clouds visible in Swedish skies. They are formed in the lower Stratosphere at an altitude of about 15 KM to 25 KM. (NASA/ Dennis Lehtonen)
Magellanic Clouds
5/5 Comet ZTF meets Comet ATLAS (Feb 10) - NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb 10 is breathtaking picture of the Comet ZTF racing across the skies as it passed another comet named Comet C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) near the constellation Auriga. Captured on the night of February 6 from a garden observatory in Germany's Bavarian Forest, the starry field of view toward the constellation Auriga spans about 2.5 degrees.  (NASA/Stefan Bemmerl)
Magellanic Clouds
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Both of these Magellanic Clouds are irregular dwarf galaxies on their own. (NASA)

There are a number of satellite galaxies in the Milky Way Galaxy, but the largest is the Large Magellanic Cloud. This is what has been featured in today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day. The space agency shared an image representing two prominent clouds in this Chilean Atacama Desert skyscape captured on January 21. But the reality is that they actually lie beyond our Milky Way - known as the Large and the Small Magellanic Clouds. These were named for the 16th-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, leader of the team that first circumnavigated planet Earth.

“Famous jewels of southern hemisphere skies, they are the brightest satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. The larger cloud is some 160000 light-years, and the smaller 210000 light-years distant,” NASA explained about the photo. Both the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are irregular dwarf galaxies, but they both show central barred structures when viewed through a wide-angle lens. In-depth and wide exposures also uncover faint nebular dust clouds, known as galactic cirrus, as well as the effects of gravitational tidal interactions between the two Magellanic Clouds.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is characterized by its many star-forming regions. From the Tarantula Nebula, the most radiant star-forming region in our vicinity, to LHA 120-N 11, which is partially depicted in this image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, the small and irregular galaxy is speckled with bright nebulae, the most prominent indication that new stars are being formed, NASA explained.

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What is a satellite galaxy?

The sun is one of the numerous stars in the Milky Way galaxy, with hundreds of billions of stars orbiting the center of the galaxy. However, there are even larger structures that orbit the center of the Milky Way. These are other galaxies, each containing its own remarkable collection of stars, which all orbit their own centers, but the galaxies and everything in them also orbit our Milky Way galaxy. It's like the Milky Way is the sun and these other galaxies are planets, which astronomers refer to as "satellite galaxies."

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First Published Date: 11 Feb, 12:15 IST