Small Magellanic Cloud

Smaller of the two irregular galaxies that make up the Magellanic Clouds. These two galaxies orbit the Milky Way once every 1,500 million years, and each other once every 900 million years. Located 200,000 light years away, the SMC has a mass of ~3 billion Msun. Some observations suggest that it might be a barred disk galaxy, deformed by gravitational interactions with the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The Magellanic Stream, a tail of gas that has been stripped from the SMC/LMC system, provides further evidence for interactions between these three galaxies.


Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bd/Small_magellanic_cloud.jpg/500px-Small_magellanic_cloud.jpg.