NASA has released video and a massive 16000 x 10000 image of one of two of the Solar System’s closest sizable neighbors, captured by the American space agency’s Swift satellite. The images, composites which were snapped at the ultraviolet wavelength of light, have been combined to form a mosaic of “the most detailed ultraviolet light surveys ever of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.”
The two images, a 160-megapixel shot of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and a 57-megapixel snap of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), were presented yesterday at the 222nd American Astronomical Society meeting in Indianapolis in the States. The LMC image (pictured above) shows about 1 million sources of UV light in the Large Megellanic Cloud galaxy, while the SMC image details around a quarter of that number.
NASA have released a video explaining the detail in the new multi-shot images but the full-sized images can also be downloaded from NASA directly. The LMC TIFF image will set downloaders back 457MB and the SMC TIFF is a comparatively small 42MB. Since both galaxies can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere “as faint, glowing patches in the night sky”, getting a chance to see them close up may just give you a sense of perspective.