Discovery of 'living fossil' galaxy could unlock secrets about early universe

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Discovery of 'living fossil' galaxy could unlock secrets about early universe

Needless to say, Bedin 1 is also quite faint, which led the astronomers to classify it as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. Scientists were studying the globular cluster NGC 6752 and made an 'unexpected discovery, ' writes the press release on Hubble Space Telescope. 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. 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. Analyses of the stars' brightnesses and temperatures indicated that they lay beyond NGC 6752 and were, in fact, part of a previously unknown galaxy. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. They're also fairly common in our Local Group of galaxies - we know of 36 galaxies of this type and 22 of them are in orbit around our galaxy!

According to NASA, the Bedin 1 galaxy is both ancient and isolated, spanning approximately 3,000 light-years and clocking in around a thousand times dimmer than the Milky Way. Second, Bedin 1 shows little sign of past interactions with any galactic neighbors.

So with Bedin 1 found, it's one down, 1,999,999,999,999 to go.

The Hubble Team said: "While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features".

Based on the properties of its stars, including their low-luminosity, astronomers were able to calculate that Bedin 1 is between 10 and 13 billion years old.

The tiny galaxy is truly off on its own, and is roughly two million light years from the nearest large galaxy, so it's something of a time capsule that dates back billions and billions of years. The galaxy's isolation means it rarely interacted with other galaxies, making it the equivalent of an early universe "living fossil", the space agency explains.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been peering into the unknown and infinite universe for almost 30 years.

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