NASA's Hubble Telescope Stumbles Across A New Galaxy
Of the estimated two trillion galaxies in the universe, NASA just located another one... completely by accident.
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.
Nestled behind the cluster's crowded star population, a dwarf galaxy was spotted for the first time, NASA said.
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.
The 13.1 billion-year-old galaxy has been named Bedin 1, and according to NASA it is a "living fossil" from the early universe.
"Because of its 13-billion-year-old age, and its isolation -- which resulted in hardly any interaction with other galaxies-- the dwarf is the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe," NASA said in a statement.
Bedin 1 is classified as a 'dwarf spheroidal galaxy' because of its relatively small size.
"It measures only around 3,000 light-years at its greatest extent (barely 1/30th the diameter of the Milky Way)," NASA said.
"It is roughly a thousand times dimmer than the Milky Way."
In the 1990s, the famous Hubble Deep Field image led NASA to believe there were about 200 billion galaxies in the universe.
"Subsequent sensitive observations such as Hubble's Ultra Deep Field revealed a myriad of faint galaxies," NASA said.
But in 2016, research found that this estimate was about 10 times too low.
A team led by Christopher Conselice of the University of Nottingham, U.K., found that galaxies are not evenly distributed throughout the universe.
Most of these galaxies were relatively small and faint, with masses similar to those of the satellite galaxies surrounding the Milky Way," NASA said.
"As they merged to form larger galaxies the population density of galaxies in space dwindled."
So with Bedin 1 found, it's one down, 1,999,999,999,999 to go.