157 000 light-years

One of our closest cosmic companions is the Large Magellanic Cloud, an irregular galaxy that orbits our own. It is visible in the southern sky as a pale cloud-like object, almost appearing as an extension of the Milky Way itself. This infrared image from the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope reveals huge swathes of hot gas and dust, showing that the Large Magellanic Cloud is a hotbed of star formation.

Credit: M. Meixner for NASA / JPL-CalTech and the SAGE Legacy Team.

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