The Milky Way’s Neighborhood

What is the Small Magellanic Cloud?

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), like its bigger compatriot the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), is a small irregular galaxy that orbits the Milky Way galaxy. It is a roughly disk-shaped galaxy about twenty-thousand light-years across and about 200,000 light-years away. Like the LMC, the SMC is forming stars at a rate much faster than that of the Milky Way. It is thus an important target for astronomers who are studying the formation and aging of stars and galaxies.


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