Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers studying distant, dim stars accidentally stumbled upon something they hadn't anticipated: An entirely undocumented galaxy sitting around 30 million light-years from Earth. Their aim was to measure the age of the cluster by using these stars, but they unexpectedly found a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard.
Bedin 1 is located "only" about 30 million light-years away, which puts its 2300 times farther away than the cluster visible in the foreground of the image above.
The newly found galaxy is nicknamed Bedin 1 by the astronomers, is an average sized, elongated galaxy. 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).
You may have spotted the Triangulum Galaxy-also known as Messier 33 or NGC 598-on a particularly clear night: It's that faint, blurry object in the constellation of Triangulum (the Triangle).
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Looking at the properties of the stars in Bedin 1, astronomers concluded that the dwarf galaxy is almost 13 billion years old, nearly the same age as the Universe! And that's what makes Bedin 1 so interesting for astronomers.
"Most of these galaxies were relatively small and faint, with masses similar to those of the satellite galaxies surrounding the Milky Way", NASA said. Its stars are also old, like really old, revealing that the galaxy is as ancient as the universe itself - approximately 13 billion years old. 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.
The results were presented in the letter The HST Large Programme on NGC 6752.
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.
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