The find was fortuitous.
Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers studying distant, dim stars accidentally stumbled upon something they hadn't anticipated: An entirely undocumented galaxy sitting around 30 million light-years from Earth.
The Hubble images revealed an odd clump of stars.
In the outer fringes of the observed area, a compact collection of stars was visible.
The newly found galaxy is nicknamed Bedin 1 by the astronomers, is an average sized, elongated galaxy.
Only a fraction of the size of the Milky Way and incredibly faint, the so-called Bedin 1 system is considered a dwarf spheroidal galaxy-defined by their small size, low luminosity, and lack of dust and old stellar populations. They're also fairly common in our Local Group of galaxies - we know of 36 galaxies of this type and 22 of them are in orbit around our galaxy!
The discovery of Bedin 1 was a truly serendipitous find.
This "loner galaxy" is about 30 million light years away, or 2,300 times farther away than the clusters in the foreground of the image. It's thought that Bedin 1 is the most isolated dwarf galaxy known to exist. Bedin 1 has sat quietly ever since, letting its massive stars burn out and die and making no new stars to replace them, unperturbed by the cosmic shuffle around it. These faint stars were being studied so that scientists could better gauge how old the cluster was as a whole, but that's when they noticed what appeared to be a galaxy that had yet to be documented. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The upper left one highlights the part containing the galaxy Bedin 1. NASA likens it to the "astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early universe". The researchers published their findings in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.