Published: Sun, February 03, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Hubble accidentally discovers ancient dwarf galaxy

Hubble accidentally discovers ancient dwarf galaxy

While analyzing stars in cluster NGC 6752, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope encountered a tiny and faint spherical dwarf galaxy 30 million light-years away which they have nicknamed Bedin 1.

An worldwide team of astronomers recently used the telescope to study white dwarf stars in the NGC 6752. NASA has shared a stunning image of the dwarf galaxy that was captured by Hubble.

In the outer fringes of the observed area, a compact collection of stars was visible.

The team added: "The discovery of Bedin 1 was a truly serendipitous find". Measuring only 3,000 light-years wide, Bedin 1 is a fraction of the size of the Milky Way (our galaxy is at least 100,000 light-years wide).

Aging space telescope Hubble has stumbled upon a previously unknown galaxy dubbed Bedin 1, a celestial destination within the Milky Way that NASA describes as akin to a 'living fossil.' The relatively minuscule, very dim Bedin 1 galaxy is 13-billion-years-old and spheroidal in shape with a width around 1/30th that of the Milky Way.

The team published their discovery January 31, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. The upper left one highlights the part containing the galaxy Bedin 1.

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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). Not only is it one of just a few dwarf spheroidals that have a well established distance but it is also extremely isolated.

The Hubble Team said: "While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features".

Further observations led the astronomers to deduce that the galaxy is roughly 13 billion years old, making it roughly as old as the Milky Way. NASA likens it to the "astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe".

The Hubble Space Telescope, a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency, launched to Earth orbit in April 1990 aboard the space shuttle Discovery. That makes it a neighbor, in galactic terms.

The results were presented in the letter The HST Large Programme on NGC 6752.

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