A team of Russian and American scientists have uncovered a new dwarf galaxy next to the Milky Way – the galaxy we live in.
Called KKs3, the galaxy is seven million light years away and was discovered in August using the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s being hailed as a rare find.
“Finding objects like KKs3 is painstaking work, even with observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope,” said Dimitry Makarov of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia. Results were posted in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“But with persistence, we’re slowly building up a map of our local neighbourhood, which turns out to be less empty than we thought.”
KKs3 is located in the direction of the constellation Hydrus and its stars have only one ten-thousandth of the mass of the Milky Way.
As a “dwarf spheroidal” or dSpH galaxy, it doesn’t have the kind of spiral arms that are featured in the Milky Way and lacks raw materials such as gas and dust that are necessary for new generations of stars to form.
As a result, dSpH galaxies are very hard to find. However, astronomers are in the hunt for them because dwarf spheroidal galaxies can help them understand how galaxies form in the universe.
“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,” said Makarov.