Hubble fortuitously discovers a new galaxy in the cosmic neighbourhood

This image taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows a part the globular cluster NGC 6752. Behind the bright stars of the cluster a denser collection of faint stars is visible- the previously unknown dwarf spheroidal galaxy Bedin 1

Zooming in on NGC 6752 and Bedin 1

The final view, from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the bright stars of the cluster, as well as a collection of faint stars; these faint stars are actually part of a background galaxy, which was discovered accidentally by astronomers studying the cluster itself.

Bedin 1 is classified as a "dwarf spheroidal galaxy" because of its relatively small size. 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. In a celestial game of "Where's Waldo?", Hubble's sharp vision uncovered a never-before-seen dwarf galaxy located far behind the cluster's crowded stellar population. They discovered a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away.

The different wavelength observations allow viewers to examine the galaxy's structure, discerning between older and younger stars, and spot features, such black holes and nebulas.

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. 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.

This video takes the viewer on a journey to the globular cluster NGC 6752. Bedin 1 is very isolated and is also one of the very few of its type that have a well-established distance.

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. This makes it possibly the most isolated small dwarf galaxy discovered to date. A Hubble statement likens Bedin 1 to "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.

So if Bedin 1 is gravitationally connected to the distant NGC 6744, the larger galaxy appears to have left its little sibling alone.

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