Astronomers May Have Found Milky Way's Faintest Satellite Galaxy

Posted: Nov 23 2016, 6:33pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 23 2016, 6:38pm CST , in Latest Science News


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Astronomers may have found Milky Way's faintest Satellite Galaxy
This is a Hubble Space Telescope view of a very massive cluster of galaxies, MACS J0416.1-2403, located roughly 4 billion light-years away and weighing as much as a million billion suns. The inset is an image of an extremely faint and distant galaxy that existed only 400 million years after the big bang. Hubble captured it because the gravitational lens makes the galaxy appear 20 times brighter than normal. Credits: NASA, ESA, and L. Infante (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

Using a 8.2-meter telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, an international team of researchers has found what could be the faintest dwarf satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.

Called Virgo I, the new dwarf satellite galaxy lies in the direction of the constellation Virgo at a distance of 280,000 light years from our Sun, Xinhua news agency reported.

It has an absolute luminosity of -0.8 in the optical waveband and such a remote galaxy with faint brightness has not been identified in previous sky surveys.

Its discovery suggested the presence of a large number of yet-undetected dwarf satellites in the halo of the Milky Way, according to the study published this week in The Astrophysical Journal.

"This discovery implies hundreds of faint dwarf satellites waiting to be discovered in the halo of the Milky Way," study leader Masashi Chiba, a professor from the Tohoku University in Japan, said in a statement.

"How many satellites are indeed there and what properties they have, will give us an important clue of understanding how the Milky Way formed and how dark matter contributed to it."

So far, some 50 satellite galaxies to the Milky Way have been identified.

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