Astronomers have often noted evidence of smaller galaxies being pulled apart or consumed by larger ones. The small galaxy, described as a "living fossil", was found in the globular cluster NGC 6752 using the Hubble Space Telescope.
Accidentally stumbling across a nearby galaxy gives astronomers a hint that there may be many more galaxies of this type out there, just waiting to be found behind the nearest star cluster. WFIRST is a telescope specifically created to scan large chunks of the sky with the same resolution as Hubble, so there's a much better chance images from WFIRST could help us find even more sneaky galaxies once it's launched early next decade. After a careful analysis of their brightness and temperatures, the scientists came to a conclusion that these stars aren't a part of the cluster the Milky Way belongs to-but rather they are millions of light-years more distant. The finding is reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.
So with Bedin 1 found, it's one down, 1,999,999,999,999 to go.
For example, the dwarf is about 2 million light-years away from the closest big galaxy that could feasibly be its host (which is called NCG 6744), the researchers said. Awesome footage from NASA shows the camera zooming in on the "tiny" galaxy, dubbed "Bedin 1", surrounded by thousands of dazzling stars.
It measures only around 3,000 light years at its greatest extent; not only is it tiny, but it is also incredibly faint. Almost all the stars astronomers measured in Bedin 1 are small and old, implying the dwarf galaxy made all its stars in a single burst of activity some 10 billion years ago.
From the properties of its stars, astronomers were able to infer that the galaxy is around 13 billion years old - almost as old as the Universe itself. But Bedin 1 is special in several ways, according to the discovery team.
An upcoming NASA telescope, WFIRST, could help find many of those hypothetical hiding galaxies. However, its remote location and the fact that it's not near any other galaxies has led researchers to label it "a living fossil from the early Universe".