Our closest neighboring galaxy is 163,000 light years away
It is for the first time that scientist have accurately calculated the distance to our nearest galaxy known as Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) located at 163,000 light years away or 49.97 kiloparsecs.
The LMC is a dwarf galaxy and it floats in space around the Milky Way – just like the moon revolves around the Earth.
The small and irregular galaxy includes the Tarantula Nebula – the brightest stellar nursery in our cosmic neighborhood.
How this determination of distance would prove helpful?
The new finding could hold the key to determining the scale of the universe – a puzzle that has graveled the world’s greatest minds for decades.
The current measure is accurate to 2.2% which is above the earlier measurements limited to around 5 to 10% accuracy.
It could aid in improving the Hubble Constant- the expansion rate of the universe.
It is named after astronomer Edwin P Hubble who is known for his discovery in 1929 that our universe has been expanding continuously since its birth.
Why determining the Hubble constant is so important?
Accurate determination of the Hubble constant is critical for precise estimation of the age and size of our universe, and the exact distance to the LMC is one of the largest uncertainties confusing past measurements.
This new measurement can be utilized to reduce the uncertainty in calculations of the Hubble constant to 3% with prospects of improving this to a 2% uncertainty in a few years.