Hubble acidentalmente descobre uma nova galáxia em vizinhança cósmica

O universo é muito confuso. Uma miríade de cidades-ilhas de estrelas, as galáxias, formam uma tapeçaria de fundo. Muito mais perto de casa são nebulosas, aglomerados estelares e outros objetos celestes em primeiro plano que estão em sua maioria dentro da Via Láctea. Apesar da vastidão do espaço, os objetos tendem a ficar na frente um do outro.

Isso aconteceu quando os astrônomos usaram o Telescópio Espacial Hubble para fotografar o aglomerado globular de estrelas NGC 6752 (localizado a 13.000 anos-luz de distância na auréola da Via Láctea). Em um jogo celestial de “Where’s Waldo?”, A visão nítida de Hubble descobriu uma galáxia anã nunca antes vista, localizada bem atrás da populosa população estelar do aglomerado. A galáxia solitária está em nosso próprio quintal cósmico, a apenas 30 milhões de anos-luz de distância (aproximadamente 2.300 vezes mais longe do que o aglomerado de primeiro plano).

O objeto é classificado como uma galáxia anã esferoidal porque mede apenas cerca de 3.000 anos-luz na sua maior extensão (apenas 1/30 do diâmetro da Via Láctea), e é aproximadamente mil vezes mais escuro que a Via Láctea.

Por causa de sua idade de 13 bilhões de anos e seu isolamento – que resultou em quase nenhuma interação com outras galáxias – o anão é o equivalente astronômico de um fóssil vivo do universo primitivo.

A equipa internacional de astrónomos que realizou este estudo é constituída por L. Bedin (Observatório Astronómico INAF de Pádua, Itália), M. Salaris (Universidade Liverpool John Moores, Liverpool, Inglaterra, Reino Unido), R. Rich (Universidade da Califórnia, Los Angeles, Califórnia, EUA), H. Richer (Universidade de British Columbia, Vancouver, Colúmbia Britânica, Canadá), J. Anderson (Instituto de Ciência do Telescópio Espacial, Baltimore, Maryland, EUA), B. Bettoni (INAF-Observatório Astronómico de Pádua, Itália), D. Nardiello, A. Milone e A. Marino (Universidade de Pádua, Itália), M. Libralato e A. Bellini (Instituto de Ciência do Telescópio Espacial, Baltimore, Maryland, EUA), A. Dieball Bonn, Bonn, Alemanha), P. Bergeron (Universidade de Montreal, Quebec, Canadá), A. Burgasser (Universidade da Califórnia, San Diego, Califórnia, EUA), e D. Apai (Universidade do Arizona,Tucson, Arizona, EUA).

Os resultados da equipe científica serão publicados on-line em 31 de janeiro de 2019, nos Avisos Mensais da Royal Astronomical Society: Letters .

O Telescópio Espacial Hubble é um projeto de cooperação internacional entre a NASA e a ESA (Agência Espacial Européia). O Centro de Voos Espaciais Goddard, da NASA, em Greenbelt, Maryland, administra o telescópio. O Instituto de Ciência do Telescópio Espacial (STScI) em Baltimore, Maryland, conduz operações científicas do Hubble. O STScI é operado pela NASA pela Associação de Universidades de Pesquisa em Astronomia, em Washington, DC

Créditos

NASA , ESA e L. Bedin (Observatório Astronômico de Pádua, Itália)

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