Infrared Legacy


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The Clouds of Magellan, visible in the southern hemisphere with the unaided eye, are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way located about 190 thousand light years away. This image shows the infrared structure of the Large Magellanic Cloud viewed by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). The image was produced by combining several hundred strip scans of the all-sky survey that cover the Galaxy. The infrared emission from relatively warm sources is coded in blue, from cooler material in green, and from the coldest material in red. The blue circular point-like sources are foreground stars in our Galaxy.

Star formation in the Large Cloud may have been triggered by a tidal interaction between it and the Milky Way. The active star-forming regions are bright in each IRAS wavelength band and appear white in the image. The yellow-green diffuse emission is from cool dust particles distributed throughout the disk of the Galaxy heated by the older stellar population of the Galaxy.

Image credits: Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, Caltech/JPL