‘Living fossil from the early universe’: Hubble spots new galactic neighbor

Space										
		
																	Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner			@Mike

Space Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight Mike Wehner @Mike

This happened when astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the globular star cluster NGC 6752 (located 13,000 light-years away in our Milky Way's halo).

The Hubble Space Telescope has just captured a new dwarf galaxy which is 30 million light-years away from the Milky Way.

An worldwide team of astronomers recently used the telescope to study white dwarf stars in the NGC 6752.

Accidentally stumbling across a nearby galaxy gives astronomers a hint that there may be many more galaxies of this type out there, just waiting to be found behind the nearest star cluster.

Behind the bright stars of the cluster a denser collection of faint stars is visible - a previously unknown dwarf spheroidal galaxy. And after carefully measuring the brightness and temperature of the background stars, they realized they had found something special - an entire galaxy that was hidden by the glare of NGC 6752.

"The discovery of Bedin 1 was a truly serendipitous find", the ESA said.

It measures only around 3,000 light years at its greatest extent; not only is it tiny, but it is also incredibly faint.

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The team published their discovery January 31, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. Granted, galaxies are anything but "small", but compared to our absolute unit of a galaxy, Bedin 1 is a featherweight.

The Hubble Team said: "While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features".

According to an academic paper published by Bedin and astronomers from Italy, the UK, Germany and the United States, the newly discovered galaxy consists mostly of red giants, and is located some 28.38 million light years from Earth, and at least 2.12 million light years from its neighbour, NGC 6744.

Further observations led the astronomers to deduce that the galaxy is roughly 13 billion years old, making it roughly as old as the Milky Way. Because of its isolation - which resulted in hardly any interaction with other galaxies - and its age, Bedin 1 is the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early Universe.

[1] While similar to dwarf elliptical galaxies in appearance and properties, dwarf spheroidal galaxies are in general approximately spherical in shape and have a lower luminosity.

The Hubble Space Telescope, run by U.S. space agency NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), has once again delivered an fantastic view at the cosmos.

The results were presented in the letter The HST Large Programme on NGC 6752.

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