Hubble finds dwarf galaxy in our cosmic neighbourhood

Hubble finds dwarf galaxy in our cosmic neighbourhood

The small galaxy, described as a "living fossil", was found in the globular cluster NGC 6752 using the Hubble Space Telescope.

In the outer fringes of the area observed with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys a compact collection of stars was visible. They analyzed the brightness and temperatures of the stars and later found that they did not belong to the globular cluster, which is part of the Milky Way.

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.

Based on the properties of its stars, astronomers believe the galaxy is about 13 billion years old-nearly as ancient as the Universe itself.

Nestled behind the cluster's crowded star population, a dwarf galaxy was spotted for the first time, NASA said.

There's no shortage of interesting things to see in our own galaxy, but astronomers love finding new galactic neighbors as well.

While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features. This cluster lies around 13,000 light-years away, and scientists were studying the stars with Hubble to find out how old they are, and in turn, the age of the entire cluster.

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The team published their discovery January 31, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

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. Not only is it one of just a few dwarf spheroidals that have a well established distance but it is also extremely isolated.

Astronomers have discovered a galaxy thought to be around 13 billion years old - almost as old as the universe itself.

"Most of these galaxies were relatively small and faint, with masses similar to those of the satellite galaxies surrounding the Milky Way", NASA said. NASA likens it to the "astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe".

So if Bedin 1 is gravitationally connected to the distant NGC 6744, the larger galaxy appears to have left its little sibling alone.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a joint project between NASA and ESA.

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