Astronomers have confirmed the clash between the two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way

If you look at the sky at night, while in the southern hemisphere, you will see two glowing clouds, facing away from the Milky Way. These clouds stars are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way: Small and Large Magellanic Cloud (SMC and LMC). Using the latest data provided by a powerful new space telescope, astronomers from the University of Michigan found that the south-eastern region, or "wing", the Small Magellanic Cloud departs from the main body of the dwarf galaxy.

Astronomers have confirmed the clash between the two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way

This is clearly indicative of the fact that the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds have recently encountered. The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Collision of galaxies

Together with an international team of Sally Oh, professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan and researcher Johnny Dorigo Jones studied MMO, trying to find a "runaway" stars, or stars that were ejected from the clusters within the IMO. To observe the galaxy, they used the latest space telescope data "Gaia" - the new space telescope, launched by the European Space Agency. Gaia will take pictures of the stars for a few years, to chart their movements in real time. Using these data, scientists can measure how the stars move across the sky.

"We were looking for a very massive, hot, young stars - the hottest, most luminous stars, which are quite rare," says Oh. "The beauty of the Small Magellanic Cloud and the Large Magellanic Cloud is that they are separate galaxies."

By studying these data, the researchers also noticed that all the stars in the wings - the south-eastern part of the IMO - are moving in the same direction and at the same speed. This suggests that the IMO and the LMC will probably encounter a few hundred million years ago.

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