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Magellanic Clouds

The two Magellanic Clouds are irregular dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way galaxy, and thus are members of our Local Group of galaxies.The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and its neighbour and relative, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) are conspicuous objects in the southern hemisphere, looking like separated pieces of the Milky Way to the naked eye.

Observation, and theoretical evidence suggests that the LMC and SMC have been greatly distorted by tidal interaction with the Milky Way as they orbit around it; streams of neutral hydrogen connect them to the Milky Way and to each other, and both resemble disrupted barred spiral galaxies.

However, their gravity has affected our Galaxy as well, distorting the outer parts of the galactic disk.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Magellanic Clouds", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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September 5, 2015

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