Looking like mounds of sugar crystals scattered across a black tablecloth, this ultraviolet image, released June 3, showcases the multitude of stars that reside within one of the Milky Way's small companion galaxies.
NASA's Swift satellite has produced the most massive ultraviolet-light survey of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) ever attempted.
The image is the culmination of nearly two days of exposure and was stitched together from 656 individual snapshots spanning 7,000 light-years across. (Related: "Neighboring Galaxy Caught With Stolen Stars.")
While to Southern Hemisphere sky-watchers this dwarf galaxy looks like a small, hazy patch, the Swift satellite revealed 250,000 individual ultraviolet sources within the SMC.
"With these mosaics, we can study how stars are born and evolve across each galaxy in a single view, something that's very difficult to accomplish for our own galaxy because of our location inside it," NASA's Stefan Immler said in a press statement.
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