Small Magellanic Cloud
January 5, 2010--A new portrait of the Small Magellanic Cloud reveals our galactic neighbor in unprecedented detail. The picture, taken in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, is helping astronomers better understand the life cycle of dust in the galaxy.
Understanding where dust comes from, how it forms bodies such as planets, and how it gets dispersed in the spaces between objects can result in new insights into galaxy formation. And the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy close to the Milky Way, is an analog for some of the tiny galaxies that first populated the universe.
SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Tiny Galaxy, Sun's Iron, More
A tiny galaxy helps uncover the secret life of dust, a stellar "autopsy" reveals something exotic, a stream runs through our galactic neighborhood, and more in our selection of the week's best space pictures.