March 6, 2013

Galaxy closer than we thought... by about 40,000 light years

It was a screw up on a galactic scale, but at least we fixed it. Scientists have discovered that the Large Magellanic Cloud is actually 163,000 light years away when previous estimates had put it at around 200,000 light years away.

In case you're not aware, that is quite the change in position. The Large Magellanic Cloud, which can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, is the third closest galaxy to our own Milky Way.

It is about 10 Billion times the size of our sun. It looks more like a giant cloud in the sky — it doesn't have a spiral shape, like our home galaxy — but might have at one time.


In the new study, researchers used new measurement techniques and well-known stars as benchmarks, to refine this measurement. The study suggests that their new estimate is accurate to about 2 percent.

It's good to know where things are in the universe. I'm assuming that's kind of important.

(To buy a book about galaxies, click here.)

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