Wednesday, 24 April, 2019

Hubble Accidentally Finds Entire Galaxy Lurking Behind a Cluster of Stars

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Cary Marshall | 03 February, 2019, 15:30

They found a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard which is around 30 million light-years away, The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

The team published their discovery January 31, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

An worldwide team of scientists was using photos from NASA's Hubble to observe old and faint white dwarf stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752. This cluster lies around 13,000 light-years away, and scientists were studying the stars with Hubble to find out how old they are, and in turn, the age of the entire cluster.

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

The newly discovered star system, called Bedin 1, in recognition of the scientist's emerging part in its invention, looks weeny and weak even under the powerful Hubble magnification.

The medium-sized, elongated galaxy measures approximately 3,000 light years at its widest, barely 1/30th of the diameter of the Milky Way.

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You may have spotted the Triangulum Galaxy-also known as Messier 33 or NGC 598-on a particularly clear night: It's that faint, blurry object in the constellation of Triangulum (the Triangle).

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!

Bedin 1 is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy which contains small, old stars that lack dust and are very faint. They're also fairly common in our Local Group of galaxies - we know of 36 galaxies of this type and 22 of them are in orbit around our galaxy!

The galaxy, dubbed Bedin 1 by its discoverer, is distinct in its isolation.

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. 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".

The discovery of Bedin 1 was a truly serendipitous find.

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