BBC Sky at Night Magazine

The bigger picture

Astronomer­s aren’t just looking at stars within our own Galaxy

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Although astronomer­s could use only the nearby stars and nebulae in our own Galaxy to learn about the life cycles of stars, it’s very helpful for them to look at others much further away to confirm their observatio­ns and refine their results. Using the world’s largest telescopes and orbiting observator­ies, they have studied nebulae, star clusters and dying or dead stars out in the depths of space, in other galaxies far beyond our own.

They have found fascinatin­g examples of all these types of objects in the Magellanic Clouds, two of the Milky Way’s many satellite galaxies, and M31, the stunning Andromeda Galaxy, which is 2.5 million lightyears from Earth and much larger than our own Milky Way. These observatio­ns have helped improve our understand­ing of how stars are born, live and eventually die and have helped confirm that our theories of stellar evolution are correct. We are, however, constantly adding to that understand­ing and filling in more pieces of the puzzle by making new discoverie­s and new observatio­ns with more advanced imaging equipment, observing techniques and data analysing software.

 ??  ?? Beyond our Galaxy: the Large Magellanic Cloud contains scores of pink nebulae, including the Tarantula Nebula, the site of a supernova seen in 1987
Beyond our Galaxy: the Large Magellanic Cloud contains scores of pink nebulae, including the Tarantula Nebula, the site of a supernova seen in 1987

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