Interstellar Medium

Under pressure in the Magellanic Clouds

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Science  29 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6285, pp. 547
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6285.547-a

The tip of the “wing” of the Small Magellanic Cloud

PHOTO: NASA/CXC/JPL-CALTECH/STSCI

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) are small nearby galaxies and a familiar sight in the Southern Hemisphere sky, easily visible to the naked eye. Welty et al. have combined ultraviolet and optical spectroscopy to measure the pressure of the gas in the interstellar medium of the LMC and SMC. They find a generally higher pressure than in our own Milky Way galaxy, which is consistent with the higher ultraviolet radiation field and lower abundance of heavy elements in the Magellanic Clouds. These results will aid astronomers seeking to extrapolate our understanding of the Milky Way to conditions found in other galaxies.

Astrophys. J., in press; http://arxiv.org/abs/1603.03801 (2016).

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