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The Question

(Submitted June 13, 2007)

Is it true that the 2 Magellanic Clouds are moving away from us at a speed greater than we thought, making our galaxy either more massive or the 2 Magellanic Clouds not our satellites? Are these measurements reliable?

The Answer

Thank you for your question. Indeed, their speeds were recently measured to be roughly twice as high as previously thought. This implies that the clouds are unbound to the Milky Way unless the dark matter halo is twice as massive as assumed (or perhaps significantly non-spherical).

-- Michael Loewenstein and Amy Fredericks for ``Ask an Astrophysicist''

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