Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC)
Abr-e Kucak-e Magellan (#)
Fr.: Petit Nuage de Magellan
An irregular galaxy, the smaller of the two Magellanic Clouds that are satellites of our own Galaxy, lying in the southern constellation → Tucana. The SMC is about 10,000 light-years in diameter and some 200,000 light-years away. It has a visible mass of about 1/50-th that of our Galaxy and 1/10-th of that of the LMC. Its heavy element content is about a factor 5 smaller than that of the Galaxy. The SMC is the third-nearest external galaxy after the → Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy and the → Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).
→ small; Magellanic named in honor of Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator (c 1480-1521), who undertook the first voyage around the world. The two Clouds were first described by Magellan's chronicler Pigafetta, after leaving the Strait of Magellan in 1520; → cloud.