From a distance of 160,000 light years, the Large Magellanic Cloud looks at first glance like an isolated section of the Milky Way, running across southern Dorado into neighbouring Mensa.

Is the Large Magellanic Cloud contained in the Milky Way? I don't think it is, but I'm not entirely sure.

  • $\begingroup$ Unclear what you're asking. The Large Magellanic Cloud is gravitationally bound to the Milky Way, but it's not in the disc. How do you define "in the Milky Way"? $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2016 at 4:29

1 Answer 1


The short answer is that the Magellanic clouds are not part of the Milky way; they are satellite galaxies of the Milky way.

The image below shows the Andromeda galaxy. Note the small extra galaxies, marked Messier 32 and Messier 110. They are not part of the Andromeda galaxy, but are satellites of it. They would appear like the Magellanic clouds of the Andromeda galaxy. enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Say, is that an actual photo, or a representation? $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Nov 19, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Its a photo of the Andromeda galaxy, from wikisky. It's not, of course, a photo of the milky way. $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Nov 19, 2016 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I didn't realize M110 and M32 came out so clearly. Amazing stuff. I guess, it would be impossible to see them that clearly just visually, even with a badass telescope. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Nov 19, 2016 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ They are Messier objects so can be seen with a reasonable telescope, but they won't look like the photograph! $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2016 at 22:12

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