Measuring the inclination of the Large Magellanic Cloud with the Dark Energy Camera

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC & SMC) are the most massive satellites of the Milky Way, and the nearest examples of gas-rich star-forming dwarf galaxies. The structure of the LMC is generally accepted to be that of a planar disk viewed at an angle inclined to the plane of the sky.  Remarkably, however, the inclination angle of the disk is not firmly established; nor is the structure of the disk itself. One possibility is that these parameters vary with distance from the LMC centre. This would indicate deformation of the disk (such as warping and/or flaring), possibly due to a recent close encounter with the SMC. Astronomers at RSAA have recently obtained deep wide-field imaging of the LMC periphery with the state-of-the-art Dark Energy Camera. In this project you will use these data to obtain the most precise measurement of the inclination and structure of the outer LMC disk, and search for evidence of distortion due to the gravitational influence of the SMC. For more information about this potential research topic or activity, or to discuss any related research area, please contact the supervisor.

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