Hubble Captures Stunning New Dwarf Galaxy Close to the Milky Way

Pablo Tucker
February 3, 2019

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.

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.

An global team of astronomers recently used the telescope to study white dwarf stars in the NGC 6752.

The Hubble Deep Field taken oven 10 consecutive days in 1995. Image NASA
The Hubble Deep Field taken oven 10 consecutive days in 1995. Image NASA

This composite image shows the location of the accidentally discovered dwarf galaxy Bedin 1 behind 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. And that's what makes Bedin 1 so interesting for astronomers.

The object is classified as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy because it measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way), and it is roughly a thousand times dimmer than the Milky Way.

Astronomers estimate Bedin 1's age at about 13 billion years and say it's been isolated from interactions with other galaxies. The lunar sample was brought to Earth from the Moon by the Apollo 14 astronauts. 36 galaxies of this type are already known to exist in the Local Group of Galaxies, 22 of which are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. The researchers published their findings in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

The Hubble Team said: "While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features". Wonderful footage from NASA shows the camera zooming in on the "tiny" galaxy, dubbed "Bedin 1", surrounded by thousands of dazzling stars. Not only is it one of just a few dwarf spheroidals that have a well established distance but it is also extremely isolated.

Dubbed Bedin I in honor of its discoverer, the galaxy is comparatively small, faintly lit and amazingly ancient, reported Gizmodo.

This "loner galaxy" is about 30 million light years away, or 2,300 times farther away than the clusters in the foreground of the image. But the famed space telescope managed to find another galaxy recently.

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