The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), one of the nearest galaxies to our Milky Way, as viewed by ESA’s Gaia satellite using information from the mission’s second data release.
This view is not a photograph but has been compiled by mapping the total amount of radiation detected by Gaia in each pixel, combined with measurements of the radiation taken through different filters on the spacecraft to generate colour information.
To the lower left of the galaxy is the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. The dark pixels at the centre of this cluster are an artefact. They were produced because the density of stars in this region was too high for Gaia to scan and transmit.
Acknowledgement: Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC); A. Moitinho / A. F. Silva / M. Barros / C. Barata, University of Lisbon, Portugal; H. Savietto, Fork Research, Portugal.