Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight

Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight

Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight

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. Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the astronomers began to notice that some stars along the outer fringes of the globular cluster were out of place, leading to the accidental discovery. Granted, galaxies are anything but "small", but compared to our absolute unit of a galaxy, Bedin 1 is a featherweight. These properties led astronomers to classify it as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. Relative to other galaxies in the universe, NASA says that Bedin 1 is essentially in our planet's own "cosmic backyard".

For example, the dwarf is about 2 million light-years away from the closest big galaxy that could feasibly be its host (which is called NCG 6744), the researchers said. 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. To date, some 36 galaxies of this type have been documented in the Local Group of galaxies, according to a Hubble release about the discovery. By comparison, the Milky Way's length is 105,000 light-years. And that's what makes Bedin 1 so interesting for astronomers.

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Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are defined by their small size, low-luminosity, lack of dust and old stellar populations [1]. Not only is it one of just a few dwarf spheroidals that have a well established distance but it is also extremely isolated. But as this discovery also shows, they're rather hard to spot, mostly because they're so small and dim.

Astronomers have discovered a galaxy thought to be around 13 billion years old - almost as old as the universe itself. The researchers suspect that Bedin-1 is the most isolated galaxy ever discovered.

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"Because of its 13-billion-year-old age, and its isolation - which resulted in hardly any interaction with other galaxies- the dwarf is the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe", NASA said in a statement.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of worldwide cooperation between ESA and NASA.

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