Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight

Hubble just spotted a never-before-seen galaxy hiding in plain sight

While analyzing stars in cluster NGC 6752, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope encountered a tiny and faint spherical dwarf galaxy 30 million light-years away which they have nicknamed Bedin 1.

The collection of stars at the edge of the area was analyzed and deemed that they were not part of the cluster contained in the Milky Way, but a small galaxy which is nearly 30 million light-years away. Almost all the stars astronomers measured in Bedin 1 are small and old, implying the dwarf galaxy made all its stars in a single burst of activity some 10 billion years ago.

"It measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way)", NASA said.

The galaxy, dubbed Bedin 1 by its discoverer, is distinct in its isolation.


Nestled behind the cluster's crowded star population, a dwarf galaxy was spotted for the first time, NASA said. It's located 30 million light-years from the Milky Way and at least 2 million light-years away from the nearest large galaxy, NGC 6744. Myriad island cities of stars, the galaxies, form a backdrop tapestry. Due to these, scientists have determined that it is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy, according to a report published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

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. 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.

Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon: There are at least 36 in our Local Group of galaxies. NASA has shared a stunning image of the dwarf galaxy that was captured by Hubble. Not only is it one of just a few dwarf spheroidals that have a well established distance but it is also extremely isolated.

Today, September 9, 2009, NASA released the first images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope since its fix in the spring. However, its remote location and the fact that it's not near any other galaxies has led researchers to label it "a living fossil from the early Universe".

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