Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighbourhood

Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighbourhood

Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighbourhood

Galaxies: Big, bright and really hard to miss. Sure, that may sound like a long way away, but over intergalactic scales, that's like finding a tree in your backyard that you didn't realize you had. Astronomers have often noted evidence of smaller galaxies being pulled apart or consumed by larger ones.

An global team of scientists was using photos from NASA's Hubble to observe old and faint white dwarf stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752. The Hubble Space Telescope team initially planned to determine the age of a globular cluster by measuring its faintest stars, but ended up stumbling upon a small galaxy while doing so. After a careful analysis of their brightness and temperatures, the scientists came to a conclusion that these stars aren't a part of the cluster the Milky Way belongs to-but rather they are millions of light-years more distant.

Despite dwarf spheroidal galaxies being a common discovery, Bedin 1 is unique from the rest. WFIRST is a telescope specifically created to scan large chunks of the sky with the same resolution as Hubble, so there's a much better chance images from WFIRST could help us find even more sneaky galaxies once it's launched early next decade. For starters, it's small.

While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features.

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Astronomers estimate Bedin 1's age at about 13 billion years and say it's been isolated from interactions with other galaxies. Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are defined by their small size, low luminosity, lack of dust and old stellar populations. 36 galaxies of this type are already known to exist in the Local Group of Galaxies, 22 of which are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. For starters, it's a loner.

Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have discovered a new dwarf galaxy relatively near the Milky Way.

Astronomers have discovered a galaxy thought to be around 13 billion years old - almost as old as the universe itself. NASA likens it to the "astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe". 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.

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