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article imageNearby dwarf galaxy throws wrench in understanding of galaxies

By Sravanth Verma     Dec 24, 2014 in Science
A minuscule dwarf galaxy, named KKs3, has been found in the Milky Way's backyard, about 7 million light years away from us.
The spheroidal galaxy is only the second isolated dwarf, spheroidal galaxy discovered in the local group of galaxies which the Milky Way inhabits. The discovery is an unexpected one as dwarf galaxies are usually found close to other more massive galaxies, which are thought to have siphoned off matter to feed their own growth. But KKs3 is isolated, which has led researchers to ponder whether such occurrences are more of a norm than previously thought. If so, this could change our understanding of how galaxies form.
KKs3 weighs only one-ten thousandth of the Milky Way. Dwarf galaxies lack the gas and dust to create new stars, and as such any stars found in them are quite ancient and generally dim, making them difficult to detect. But they also offer a lens into the ancient past of star formation.
A Russia-led team of researchers used the the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) to find the galaxy in the direction of the southern constellation of Hydrus.
“Finding objects like Kks3 is painstaking work, even with observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope. 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, of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia. “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.”
Researchers plan to use the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), Hubble's successor, to be launched in 2018 unless delays push it back, and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) which will come online in a few years time, to find further new dwarf spheroids.
More about Milky way, Hubble space telescope, Astronomy
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