Hubble Captures Stunning New Dwarf Galaxy Close to the Milky Way

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The Hubble Space Telescope has just captured a new dwarf galaxy which is 30 million light-years away from the Milky Way. Scientists were studying the globular cluster NGC 6752 and made an ‘unexpected discovery,’ writes the press release on Hubble Space Telescope.

Observing Faint Dwarf Stars, Discovering New Galaxy

An international team of scientists was using photos from NASA’s Hubble to observe old and faint white dwarf stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752. They wanted to measure the age of the cluster but instead found a dwarf galaxy.

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 almost 30 million light-years away.

The team called the elongated and small galaxy Bedin 1, which measures almost 3,000 light years, only a fraction of the size of our galaxy.

 

Bedin 1 is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy which contains small, old stars that lack dust and are very faint. In the Local Group of Galaxies, scientists have spotted 36 dwarf spheroidal galaxies, and 22 of them are satellite galaxies of our Milky Way.

 

Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, Bedin et al., Digitized Sky Survey 2

 

However, Bedin 1 is different from other dwarf spheroidal galaxies, writes the press release:

Not only is it one of just a few dwarf spheroidals that have a well established distance but it is also extremely isolated. It lies about 30 million light-years from the Milky Way and 2 million light-years from the nearest plausible large galaxy host, NGC 6744. This makes it possibly the most isolated small dwarf galaxy discovered to date.

Looking at the properties of the stars in Bedin 1, astronomers concluded that the dwarf galaxy is almost 13 billion years old, nearly the same age as the Universe!

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.

The study was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.