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A team of astronomers serendipitously discovered the galaxy, nicknamed Bedin 1, while studying a globular star cluster known as NGC 6752.

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a small and strangely isolated dwarf galaxy just 30 million light-years away from our own Milky Way.

Bedin 1 is so old and so distant that it has hardly interacted with any other galaxies meaning it's essentially "the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early Universe", according to the Hubble team. It measures only around 3000 light-years at its greatest extent - a fraction of the size of the Milky Way. These properties led astronomers to classify it as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are defined by their small size, low luminosity, lack of dust and old stellar populations.

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. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

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Instead, those scientists discovered something else: an entire galaxy hiding behind this cluster of stars in our galaxy. Within the Local Group of Galaxies, there are about 36 of the dwarf spheroidal type, and among them, 22 are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. 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 researchers that discovered Bedin-1 were really lucky to have stumbled on it by accident, because it's so small and faint it would probably never have been discovered on objective with current instruments. And when they looked at the images Hubble sent back, they noticed a small galaxy hiding behind the cluster's brighter stars. First, most dwarf galaxies are found huddled up closer to a larger galaxy.

The astronomers also note that a survey planned for the upcoming Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST, planned to launch in the mid-2020's) may find more of these small, hermit-like galaxies.


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