The Stellar Cycle in the Small Magellanic Cloud

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The Stellar Cycle in the Small Magellanic Cloud

The Small Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy orbiting our Milky Way. It is classified as a dwarf irregular galaxy, with a diameter of about 19,000 light years, and containing several hundred million stars. It sits 200,000 light-years away in the constellations Tucana and Hydrus, near the South Celestial Pole. 

The SMC has long been observed by inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere, but it receives its common name from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. 

The SMC is often forgotten for its larger neighbor, the LMC, but this galaxy contains a huge amount of interesting features. By using narrowband filters for ionized hydrogen and oxygen, we can get an idea of the star formation and death within this dwarf galaxy. 

Contained within are dozens of planetary nebulae, Hii regions, and supernova remnants. Places where stars die, and cast their elements out into space, and many regions where young stars are born. The intense radiation of all this activity ionizes the surrounding gas, to create this beautiful nebula structure. 

This image was captured from the darkest observatory on the planet, in the Khomas Highlands in Namibia, at the foothills of the Gamsberg mountain. I used my 85mm scope to capture about 60hrs of exposure on this object.

This is a small limited edition fine art paper print run of 10 pieces. They are 16x20 with a 1" border making them 18x22". These prints ship worldwide.