Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have made an unexpected finding – a dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, only 30 million light-years away.
This picture shows a part of the globular cluster NGC 6752, which is what they were actually studying. But behind those bright stars a denser collection of faint stars is visible. That’s the previously unknown dwarf spheroidal galaxy now known as Bedin 1.
While dwarf spheroidal galaxies are not uncommon, Bedin 1 has some notable features. It is one of just a few that have a well-established distance, and it is extremely isolated – about 30 million light-years from the Milky Way and two million light-years from the nearest plausible large galaxy host, NGC 6744.
The discovery is considered truly fortuitous, as very few Hubble images allow such faint objects to be seen.
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