Astronomers have determined the exact position of the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of astronomers for the first time tracked the movement of a large number of stars in the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud, the largest satellite of the Milky Way, which allowed him to determine the position of the center of this dwarf galaxy. This was announced on Tuesday by the press service of the Potsdam Astrophysical Institute (LIAP).

“The short distance between the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud allowed us to follow the movement inside this galaxy using the VISTA telescope.

This allowed us to follow for the first time the processes that control the formation of galaxies and set their appearance,” said LIAP researcher Maria- Rosa Choni, whose words are quoted by the press service of the institute.

The Milky Way is not alone in space, but in the company of almost 50 relatively small dwarf galaxies. The most prominent and largest of these are the so-called Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, a pair of irregularly shaped dwarf galaxies, whose diameter is approximately 13-14 thousand light years.

They attract the attention of astronomers with their unusual shape and a large number of large young stars inside them.

Choni and her colleagues discovered another unusual feature of the Large Magellanic Cloud during many years of observing the movement of many large stars located in the central regions of this galaxy.

In a similar way, scientists tried to calculate the exact position of the center of the largest satellite of the Milky Way, as well as determine its exact three-dimensional shape.

3D map of neighboring galaxy

To do this, scientists tracked how the position of the stars of the Large Magellanic Cloud changes relative to more distant background objects located at a great distance from both the Milky Way and the dwarf galaxy itself.

The relatively small distance between our Galaxy and its satellite has allowed scientists to determine the exact orbits of over 6.3 million stars using the European VISTA telescope installed in the Chilean part of the Atacama Desert.

Using this data, the researchers calculated the position of the point around which these luminaries revolved. As it turned out, it generally coincided with the position of the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud, which was determined in the past from Hubble images using other astronomical methods. In addition to this, scientists have made several unexpected discoveries.

In particular, they found that a significant part of the stars moved around the center of the dwarf galaxy not in circular, but in highly elongated orbits, as a result of which a particularly dense elliptical cluster of stars arose in the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud, the so-called “jumper” in the language of astronomers.

This brings this galaxy closer to the Milky Way and other spiral galaxies, in the center of which there is a similar structure.

Its discovery, according to Choni and her colleagues, has already allowed astronomers to test some of the theories that describe the process of formation of “bars” in the centers of spiral galaxies.

Subsequent observations, as the researchers hope, will help them unravel the history of the formation of this structure in the Large Magellanic Cloud and clarify its role in the chemical evolution of the Universe.


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