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Most Detailed Images of Earth's Two Closest Major Galaxies

by / June 4, 2013

Astronomers at both NASA and Pennsylvania State University used NASA's Swift satellite to create the most detailed UV light surveys ever of the two major galaxies closest to Earth -- the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, according to NASA.

"We took thousands of images and assembled them into seamless portraits of the main body of each galaxy, resulting in the highest-resolution surveys of the Magellanic Clouds at ultraviolet wavelengths," said Stefan Immler, who led NASA's contribution from the Goddard Space Flight Center.

The new images reveal about 1 million UV sources in the Large Magellanic Clouds and about 250,000 in the Small Magellanic Clouds. 

Viewing in ultraviolet light lets astronomers suppress the light of normal stars like the sun, which are not very bright at such higher energies, and provides a clearer picture of the hottest stars and star-formation regions, according to NASA.