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News Release 12 of 295

February 18, 2014 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2014-11

Hubble Watches Stars' Clockwork Motion in Nearby Galaxy

February 18, 2014: Using the sharp-eyed NASA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have for the first time precisely measured the rotation rate of a galaxy based on the clock-like movement of its stars.

According to their analysis, the central part of the neighboring galaxy, called the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), completes a rotation every 250 million years. Coincidentally, it takes our Sun the same amount of time to complete a rotation around the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The arrows in this photo illustration represent the highest-quality Hubble measurements of the motion of the LMC's stars to show how the galaxy rotates.

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Image Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Feild and Z. Levay (STScI), Y. Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory), and R. van der Marel (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, R. van der Marel (STScI), and N. Kallivayalil (University of Virginia)