Hubble discovers dwarf galaxy in cosmic neighbourhood


Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to study the stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752 have made an unusual finding.

In the outer fringes of the area observed with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys a compact collection of stars was visible.

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

It measures only around 3,000 light years at its greatest extent; not only is it tiny, but it is also incredibly faint.

The galaxy, dubbed Bedin 1 by its discoverer, is distinct in its isolation. They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away. The telescope has been used to observe our solar system's planets, as well as distant galaxies and stars.

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 goal with current instruments.

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Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon: There are at least 36 in our Local Group of galaxies. 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.

Much closer to home are nebulae, star clusters, and assorted other foreground celestial objects that are mostly within our Milky Way galaxy.

From the properties of its stars, astronomers were able to infer that the galaxy is around 13 billion years old - almost as old as the Universe itself.

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

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit in 1990, where it has remained in the decades since. Perhaps the most isolated small dwarf galaxy discovered so far, the Bedin 1 is located 30 million light-years away from the Milky Way galaxy and two million light-years from NGC 6744, its nearest plausible galaxy host. However, its remote location and the fact that it's not near any other galaxies has led researchers to label it "a living fossil from the early Universe".

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