Zooming in on NGC 6752 and Bedin 1

Space										
		
																	Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner			@Mike

Space Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight Mike Wehner @Mike

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. It's too far away to study in any great detail with modern technology, but its accidental discovery is definitely one for the books.

The find was fortuitous.

The Hubble images revealed an odd clump of stars. After a careful analysis of their brightnesses 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 millions of light-years more distant.

The astronomers who discovered this new galaxy were originally doing a survey of a cluster known as NGC 6752. They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away. (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.

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

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And then there's Bedin 1's age. The team wants to study these stars to measure the age of the globular cluster, but they made this unexpected finding.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been peering into the unknown and infinite universe for almost 30 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 astronomers have classified it as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy which is defined by their small size, low-luminosity, lack of dust and old stellar populations. A Hubble statement likens Bedin 1 to "the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early Universe".

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

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of global cooperation between ESA and NASA. The scope's cosmic views were initially blurry - the result of a slight flaw in Hubble's primary mirror - but spacewalking astronauts fixed that problem in December 1993.

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