NASA says Hubble accidentally discovered a tiny ‘living fossil’ galaxy

NASA says Hubble accidentally discovered a tiny ‘living fossil’ galaxy

NASA says Hubble accidentally discovered a tiny ‘living fossil’ galaxy

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

The scientists observed a compact collection of stars in the outer edges of the area observed with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

The astronomers nicknamed the galaxy Bedin 1, and their study has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. 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). Bedin-1 is a small dwarf galaxy not unlike some of the other small dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way, with one big exception: It's really far away from pretty much everything else. Dwarf spheroidals are galaxies that are in retirement; the star formation party is over, and the stars that they do have are old and dim. The telescope has been used to observe our solar system's planets, as well as distant galaxies and stars.

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

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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 objective with current instruments.

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. Bedin 1 is very isolated and is also one of the very few of its type that have a well-established distance. NASA has shared a stunning image of the dwarf galaxy that was captured by Hubble.

"Most of these galaxies were relatively small and faint, with masses similar to those of the satellite galaxies surrounding the Milky Way", NASA said.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of worldwide cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

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