|Marco Foronda |||Dec 24, 2014 04:22 AM EST|
(Photo : Dimitry Makarov.) This image shows the newly discovered dwarf galaxy Kks3. The core of the galaxy is the right hand object at the top center of the image, with its stars spreading out over a large section around it; the left hand of the two objects is a much nearer globular star cluster.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the Milky Way's new cosmic neighbor, a queer galaxy called KKs3.
KKs3 is a dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxy that lacks features like the spiral arms found in our galaxy. It's 700 million miles away and located in the southern sky in vicinity of the constellation Hydrus. Its stellar mass is some 1/10,000 of Milky Way's.
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The new cosmic neighbor doesn't have the raw materials needed for new generations of stars to form, and it leaves behind older and fainter relics of stars. The raw materials were stripped away by nearby massive galaxies such as Andromeda.
Finding a small galaxy isn't easy because of the never-ending stream of cosmic data astronomers analyze. Cosmic data comes from dozens of observatories, on the ground and in space.
"But with persistence, we're slowly building up a map of our local neighborhood, which turns out to be less empty than we thought," said Dimitry Makarov, a researcher at Russia's Special Astrophysical Observatory and the leader of the Russian-American team that discovered the galaxy.
"It may be that are a huge number of dwarf spheroidal galaxies out there, something that would have profound consequences for our ideas about the evolution of the cosmos".
Astronomers are mainly interested in finding dSph galaxies to understand galaxy formation in the universe in general.
Professor Makarov and his colleagues are hoping to continue in finding more dSph galaxies. It is a task that will be made easier with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope that will be orbited in the next few years.
The findings were published in the Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society.
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