Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Starstruck astronomers accidentally discover hidden galaxy right next to Milky Way

Astronomers discover new dwarf galaxy using Hubble Space Telescope Zooming in on NGC 6752 and Bedin 1
Frank Williams | 03 February, 2019, 15:30

They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away.

Though it might be hard to imagine, astronomers stumbled on this galaxy by accident. An global team of astronomers was using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument to study white dwarfs - superdense stellar corpses - in the globular cluster NGC 6752, which is part of the Milky Way.

This composite image shows the location of the accidentally discovered dwarf galaxy Bedin 1 behind the globular cluster NGC 6752.

So, what do we know about our new galactic neighbor?

Initially believing the Bedin 1 group of stars was part of a separate cluster belonging to the Milky Way, astronomers soon realised that it was in fact a separate galaxy millions more light years away than previously thought.

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

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!

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Smaller developers have to play by Apple's strict rules, so it's encouraging to see the same ones applied to tech giants, he said. Facebook and Google, meanwhile, have built their entire businesses on monetizing their users' activity through advertising.

"It measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way)", NASA said.

The galaxy, dubbed Bedin 1 by its discoverer, is distinct in its isolation. Incredible footage from NASA shows the camera zooming in on the "tiny" galaxy, dubbed "Bedin 1", surrounded by thousands of dazzling stars.

The scientists that made this discovery are now calling the galaxy Bedin 1, after the lead discoverer, Luigi Bedin.

Although it's a common type of tiny galaxy, according to the study, Bedin 1 does have some special attributes.

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.

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. As telescopes on the ground and in space become more sophisticated, it seems highly likely that it's only a matter of time before more nearby cosmic fossils are dug up.

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