Hubble discovers dwarf galaxy in cosmic neighbourhood

Zooming in on NGC 6752 and Bedin 1

An worldwide team of scientists was using photos from NASA's Hubble to observe old and faint white dwarf stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752.

In the outer fringes of the area observed with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys a compact collection of stars was visible. And after carefully measuring the brightness and temperature of the background stars, they realized they had found something special - an entire galaxy that was hidden by the glare of NGC 6752.

Only a fraction of the size of the Milky Way and incredibly faint, the so-called Bedin 1 system is considered a dwarf spheroidal galaxy-defined by their small size, low luminosity, and lack of dust and old stellar populations.

Astronomers attempting to measure the age of a "globular cluster" of stars using the Hubble telescope have discovered a very dim and distant galaxy which may prove to be one of the oldest celestial fossils known to mankind. They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away. And all this activity can often mean complex histories of star formation, as old stars get ripped away and gas - the fuel of starbirth - gets pushed around, sparking new generations of stars. There's a chance this small swirl of stars may be connected to a larger nearby galaxy, but the two are far apart and it's not clear they have ever interacted.

But Bedin 1 stands out from the crowd. The researchers published their findings in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a dwarf galaxy in a globular cluster which is only 30 million light-years away.

"Most of these galaxies were relatively small and faint, with masses similar to those of the satellite galaxies surrounding the Milky Way", NASA said.

Astronomers have discovered a galaxy thought to be around 13 billion years old - almost as old as the universe itself. Because of its isolation - which resulted in hardly any interaction with other galaxies - and its age, Bedin 1 is the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early Universe.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit in 1990, where it has remained in the decades since.

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