Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy Captured in Stunning New Image is Our Galactic Neighbor

First Posted: Sep 17, 2015 08:00 AM EDT

The Wide Field Imager has captured a spectacular new image of the Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy, the close neighbor of our Milky Way Galaxy. The new image highlights the distinct histories and the characters of these galaxies, despite their close proximity.

The Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. It's only of the fourteen known satellite galaxies currently orbiting the Milky Way. These galactic hitchhikers and located close by in the Milky Way's extensive halo, which is a spherical region extending far beyond our galaxy's spiral arms. As indicated by its name, this galaxy is located in the southern constellation of Sculptor.

Although difficult to pick out, the Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy was among the first faint dwarf galaxies found orbiting the Milky Way. This tiny galaxy is thought to be a primordial galaxy, and has a large number of ancient stars.

The large quantity of old stars in this galaxy makes it a prime target for studying the earliest period of star formation. In fact, previous research has focused on creating the most accurate star formation history ever for a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. The researchers found that there were two distinct groups of stars in the galaxy. The first predominant group is the older population, which is lacking in heavier elements. The second, smaller population is rich with heavy elements, and is more youthful. The younger population is actually clustered at the galaxy's core.

The picture reveals a bit more about this intriguing galaxy. Currently, astronomers are still studying the galaxy to learn a bit more about the ancient galaxies in our universe.

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