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August 13 2013

Mystery of 600,000 light-year-long gas stream solved by Hubble

Our Milky Way galaxy doesn’t just hover in space all by itself. There are a number of small satellite galaxies orbiting it like moons around a planet. Two of these galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, have been at the heart of an astronomical mystery for the last 50 years. It was 1965 when scientists discovered a massive stream of gas extending from these two galaxies, but were at a loss to explain its formation. Massive doesn’t actually do the so-called Magellanic Stream justice — it wraps itself halfway around the Milky Way, and is a staggering 600,000 light years long.

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