Science

Hubble Space Telescope Spots 'Living Fossil' Galaxy Outside Milky Way

Hubble Space Telescope Spots 'Living Fossil' Galaxy Outside Milky Way

Bedin 1 is a fraction of the size of the Milky Way and is classified as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy.

Though it might be hard to imagine, astronomers stumbled on this galaxy by accident.

This video takes the viewer on a journey to the globular cluster NGC 6752. These faint stars were being studied so that scientists could better gauge how old the cluster was as a whole, but that's when they noticed what appeared to be a galaxy that had yet to be documented.

The researchers published their findings online today (Jan. 31) in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

Astronomers estimate Bedin 1's age at about 13 billion years and say it's been isolated from interactions with other galaxies. (For comparison, the Milky Way's famous spiral disk has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years.) Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon; astronomers already knew of more than 20 that are satellites of the Milky Way.

The tiny galaxy is truly off on its own, and is roughly two million light years from the nearest large galaxy, so it's something of a time capsule that dates back billions and billions of years.




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 goal with current instruments.

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.

The newly discovered star system, called Bedin 1, in recognition of the scientist's emerging part in its invention, looks weeny and weak even under the powerful Hubble magnification.

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. NASA likens it to the "astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe". But Bedin 1 is special in several ways, according to the discovery team.

"Subsequent sensitive observations such as Hubble's Ultra Deep Field revealed a myriad of faint galaxies", NASA said.


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