Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Galaxy as 'Old as the Universe' Spotted by Hubble Telescope

Zooming in on NGC 6752 and Bedin 1 Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighbourhood
Sandra Phillips | 03 February, 2019, 15:27

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a small and strangely isolated dwarf galaxy just 30 million light-years away from our own Milky Way.

An global team of astronomers recently used the telescope to study white dwarf stars in the NGC 6752. These faint stars were being studied so that scientists could better gauge how old the cluster was as a whole, but that's when they noticed what appeared to be a galaxy that had yet to be documented.

The collection of stars at the edge of the area was analyzed and deemed that they were not part of the cluster contained in the Milky Way, but a small galaxy which is nearly 30 million light-years away.

Initially believing the Bedin 1 group of stars was part of a separate cluster belonging to the Milky Way, astronomers soon realised that it was in fact a separate galaxy millions more light years away than previously thought.

The astronomers nicknamed the galaxy Bedin 1, and their study has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

The object is classified as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy because it measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way), and it is roughly a thousand times dimmer than the Milky Way. The lunar sample was brought to Earth from the Moon by the Apollo 14 astronauts. Not only is it tiny, but it is also incredibly faint. Granted, galaxies are anything but "small", but compared to our absolute unit of a galaxy, Bedin 1 is a featherweight.

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The discovery of Bedin 1 was a truly serendipitous find.

"This makes it possible the most isolated small dwarf galaxy discovered to date".

For example, the dwarf is about 2 million light-years away from the closest big galaxy that could feasibly be its host (which is called NCG 6744), the researchers said.

[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 is a project of global cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

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