Hubble Accidentally Discovers New Galaxy in Cosmic Neighborhood

Christopher Davidson
February 3, 2019

NASA's Hubble Telescope was focusing on the globular star cluster NGC 6752 (which is located a mere 13,000 light-years away) when it captured the surprise find.

Astronomers, with the help of the Hubble Space Spyglass, have just done a startling opening: the constellation, considered component of our own star system, actually pertain to a previously unexplored star system, which is located 30 million light years away in a particularly remote of space area.

Bedin 1 is classified as a "dwarf spheroidal galaxy" because of its relatively small size. Dwarf spheroidals are galaxies that are in retirement; the star formation party is over, and the stars that they do have are old and dim.

Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are defined by their small size, low-luminosity, lack of dust and old stellar populations [1]. (For comparison, the Milky Way's famous spiral disk has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years.) Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon; astronomers already knew of more than 20 that are satellites of the Milky Way.

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It could be used to sort recyclables from landfill trash, or assemble consumer products such as cell phones, Rodriguez said. This research was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation through the National Robotics Initiative.

The researchers that discovered Bedin-1 were really lucky to have stumbled on it by accident, because it's so small and faint it would probably never have been discovered on objective with current instruments. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

So if Bedin 1 is gravitationally connected to the distant NGC 6744, the larger galaxy appears to have left its little sibling alone. Its stars are also old, like really old, revealing that the galaxy is as ancient as the universe itself - approximately 13 billion years old. "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". But Bedin 1 is special in several ways, according to the discovery team. That makes it a neighbor, in galactic terms.

In the 1990s, the famous Hubble Deep Field image led NASA to believe there were about 200 billion galaxies in the universe. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope.

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