NASA Unravels Secrets of 'Most Striking' Spiral Galaxy

04 February, 2019, 17:15 | Author: Emmett Howard
  • Zooming in on NGC 6752 and Bedin 1

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 brightness 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 more distant.

Dubbed Bedin 1 by the astronomers who discovered it, the dwarf galaxy has been described as modestly sized and elongated. It measures only around 3000 light-years at its greatest extent - a fraction of the size of the Milky Way. In contradistinction to the Milky Way, which is a kind of spiral star system, Bedin 1 is roughly spherical - what astronomers call a dwarf spheroidal star system.

Bedin 1 is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy which contains small, old stars that lack dust and are very faint.

NASA says the dim galaxy is in our "cosmic backyard" at just 30 million light-years away. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

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The video - a 3-minute long series of images taken by the observatories - provides three different "angles" to observers, allowing them to view the galaxy in visible light, infrared light and X-rays. They're also fairly common in our Local Group of galaxies - we know of 36 galaxies of this type and 22 of them are in orbit around our galaxy!

It's estimated to be roughly 13 billion years old based on the properties of its stars, meaning it is nearly as old as the universe itself. 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.

"This makes it possibly the most isolated small dwarf galaxy discovered to date", the ESA announcement said.

This isn't the space telescope's first headline of the year, though. NASA likens it to the "astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe".

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