Milky Way Has A 'Clean, Tidy' Galactic Neighbor

First Posted: Jan 27, 2016 11:23 AM EST

The Milky Way apparently has a 'clean and tidy galactic neighbor.' The ESO's Very Large Telescope has captured the image of a dwarf galaxy 'IC 1613' where its scattered stars and pink gas are pictured in detail, according to a news release. IC 1613 is found in the constellation of Cetus (The Sea Monster) and it is approximately 2.3 million light-years away from the Earth.

IC 1613's faint glow was initially discovered in 1906 by Max Wolf, a German astronomer. Subsequently, astronomers have conducted numerous observations to locate its individual stars, it turns out that this galaxy is quite close to our own Milky Way.

Astronomers found that IC 1613 belongs to the 'Local Group' which is a collection of over 50 galaxies, including the Milky Way. IC 1613 is an unusual dwarf that lacks many typical features that are found in other small galaxies. A starry disc is one of these missing traits features, according to the researchers.

IC 1613 is quite remarkable for its 'tidiness' and contains low levels of dust within the galaxy and on the line of sight from the Milky Way, which allows for clearer observations.  IC 1613 is home to two types of stars, Cepheid variables and RR Lyrae variables. These stars are undergo a period of brightening and diming, which is linked to their extreme brightness. They are known for their pulsating features and they are categorized as bigger and brighter at fixed intervals.

By measuring the fluctuation of these stars' brightness and their dimness, astronomers can are able to determine how far away they must be to appear as dim as they do.

IC 1613 enables astronomers to conduct detailed studies and research of the universe's early expansion.  

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