Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

Where Did THAT Come From? Hubble Discovers Galactic Neighbor Bedin 1

Behind the bright cluster of stars lies the previously unknown Bedin 1 dwarf spheroidal galaxy Behind the bright cluster of stars lies the previously unknown Bedin 1 dwarf spheroidal galaxy
Sandy Nunez | 03 February, 2019, 11:24

Sure, that may sound like a long way away, but over intergalactic scales, that's like finding a tree in your backyard that you didn't realize you had.

One moment you're investigating a globular cluster, and the next you're unexpectedly writing a research paper about something else entirely, namely the discovery of previously unknown dwarf spheroidal galaxy.

NASA's Hubble Telescope was focusing on the globular star cluster NGC 6752 (which is located a mere 13,000 light-years away) when it captured the surprise find.

An worldwide team of astronomers recently used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study white dwarf stars within the globular cluster NGC 6752.

So, what do we know about our new galactic neighbor?

The astronomers nicknamed the galaxy Bedin 1, and their study has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. For starters, it's small.

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Measuring only 3,000 light-years wide, Bedin 1 is a fraction of the size of the Milky Way (our galaxy is at least 100,000 light-years wide). Wonderful footage from NASA shows the camera zooming in on the "tiny" galaxy, dubbed "Bedin 1", surrounded by thousands of dazzling stars. These properties led astronomers to classify it as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. To date, some 36 galaxies of this type have been documented in the Local Group of galaxies, according to a Hubble release about the discovery.

"The discovery of Bedin 1 was a truly serendipitous find", the ESA said. For starters, it's a loner. 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. A Hubble statement likens Bedin 1 to "the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early Universe".

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.

At roughly a thousand times dimmer than the Milky Way, Bedin 1 is one of the most ancient parts of the known universe yet discovered. First, most dwarf galaxies are found huddled up closer to a larger galaxy.

The Hubble Space Telescope, run by USA space agency NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), has once again delivered an incredible view at the cosmos.