The European Space Agency (ESA) captured amazing interstellar images of the Magellanic Clouds nearby the Milky Way. This two clouds, the large one and the small one, are ten billion times bigger than our sun and are known as dwarf galaxies which are 160,000 and 200,000 light-years away respectively from Earth, which makes them our closest cloudy neighbors. The majestic images which were taken by the Planck satellite shows a resemblance with modern art paintings.

The Magellanic Clouds are not visible from high northern latitudes and were introduced to European astronomy only at the turn of the 16th century. However, they were known long before by many civilisations in the southern hemisphere, as well as by Middle Eastern astronomers. Credit: ESA

The satellite detected the dust between the stars pervading the Magellanic Clouds, while studying the cosmic microwave background, which is the oldest light of the universe. The Planck detected emission from virtually anything that shone between itself and the cosmic microwave background at its sensitive frequencies.

The Large Magellanic can be appreciated on the center of the image which looks like circular spot, while the Small Magellanic Cloud can be seen at the bottom left corner in the form of a triangular spot. The interstellar dust which is expelled from the Milky Way can be seen in the form of red, orange and yellow clouds in the image. The blue color represents the low densities of cosmic dust. Also, there’s other galaxies captured in the foreground of the image. With a combination of red, orange and yellow in the upper part of the image, a large star-forming complex named Chameleon can be appreciated.

This colorful image is the result of the mechanism within the satellite which assigns a color to the dust formation so scientist could understand in a better way the behavior of cosmic dust along with galaxy’s magnetic field. Having a structure of the magnetic field and dust distribution in the Milky Way, scientists can compare both in order to study the relative distribution of interstellar clouds and the magnetic field.

Source: ESA