Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighborhood


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

However, not all galaxies fit into this stereotype - some are a little more understated, hidden or just plain shy, which explains why the Hubble Space Telescope found an entire galaxy hanging out on our cosmic doorstep, a mere 30 million light-years away. After a careful analysis of their brightnesses and temperatures, the astronomers concluded that these stars did not belong to the cluster - which is part of the Milky Way - but rather they are millions of light-years more distant.

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 3000 light years - a fraction of the size of the milky way.

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Dwarf spheroidal galaxies all have small sizes, low-luminosities and lack dust and old stars. The loner galaxy is in our own cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away (approximately 2,300 times farther than the foreground cluster). They wanted to measure the age of the cluster but instead found a dwarf galaxy. Due to these, scientists have determined that it is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy, according to a report published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon: There are at least 36 in our Local Group of galaxies. Granted, galaxies are anything but "small", but compared to our absolute unit of a galaxy, Bedin 1 is a featherweight. Bedin 1 is very isolated and is also one of the very few of its type that have a well-established distance. First, most dwarf galaxies are found huddled up closer to a larger galaxy. And when they looked at the images Hubble sent back, they noticed a small galaxy hiding behind the cluster's brighter stars.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit in 1990, where it has remained in the decades since. The galaxy's isolation means it rarely interacted with other galaxies, making it the equivalent of an early universe "living fossil", the space agency explains.