Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
Home > Encyclopedia of Science

Magellanic Clouds

Magellanic Clouds
The Magellanic Clouds are two irregular, satellite galaxies of our own Galaxy which are visible from the Southern Hemisphere as misty patches in the night sky. The Large Magellanic Cloud and Small Magellanic Cloud are named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521), who described them during his voyage round the world. Riding at close quarters to each other, barely 100,000 light-years apart, it is possible that the Magellanic Clouds are destined at some time to merge into a single galaxy. Together with at least two other satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, the Draco Dwarf and the Ursa Minor Dwarf, they move within an enormous river of hydrogen gas known as the Magellanic Stream.

Related category