Hubble Accidentally Finds Entire Galaxy Lurking Behind a Cluster of Stars

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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. But, having studied the brightness and temperature of the observed stars, the experts understand that they were not a constellation at all, but were approximately 2300 times farther apart. Astronomers have often noted evidence of smaller galaxies being pulled apart or consumed by larger ones. WFIRST is a telescope specifically created to scan large chunks of the sky with the same resolution as Hubble, so there's a much better chance images from WFIRST could help us find even more sneaky galaxies once it's launched early next decade. Granted, galaxies are anything but "small", but compared to our absolute unit of a galaxy, Bedin 1 is a featherweight.

Dubbed Bedin 1 by the astronomers who discovered it, the dwarf galaxy has been described as modestly sized and elongated. 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.

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Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have discovered a new dwarf galaxy relatively near the Milky Way.

Reference: These results will be published online January 31, 2019, in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters [].

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Based on the properties of its stars, astronomers believe the galaxy is about 13 billion years old-nearly as ancient as the Universe itself.

"It measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way)", NASA said. Within the Local Group of Galaxies, there are about 36 of the dwarf spheroidal type, and among them, 22 are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. Perhaps the most isolated small dwarf galaxy discovered so far, the Bedin 1 is located 30 million light-years away from the Milky Way galaxy and two million light-years from NGC 6744, its nearest plausible galaxy host. NASA likens it to the "astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe". The telescope has been used to observe our solar system's planets, as well as distant galaxies and stars.

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The astronomers also note that a survey planned for the upcoming Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST, planned to launch in the mid-2020's) may find more of these small, hermit-like galaxies.