The larger of the two irregular galaxies which accompany our own Galaxy; also known as the Nubecula Major. The LMC is visible to the naked eye as a hazy, elongated patch of light spanning about 8° of sky in the constellations Dorado and Mensa. The LMC is about 20 000 l.y. in diameter and 160 000 l.y. from Earth. Its visible mass, in stars and gas, is about one-tenth that of our Galaxy, and it has a relatively higher gas content. There is some weak spiral structure, and a noticeable bar-like distribution of stars. The LMC contains both old and young clusters, including several young blue populous clusters, unknown in our Galaxy, which resemble younger and smaller versions of globular clusters. Clusters of intermediate age appear to be lacking, suggesting that the LMC has undergone early and late bursts of star formation. A major feature is the Tarantula Nebula, a large complex of gas and young stars. A blue supergiant star in the LMC exploded as Supernova 1987A. See also magellanic clouds.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.