Amateur astronomer discovers new galaxy nearly 3 million years light-years from Earth by accident
A group of astronomers, including an amateur stargazer, have discovered a new galaxy in deep space.
Astrophysicists at the University of Surrey, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía and amateur astronomer Giuseppe Donatiello, who heads the National Deep Sky Research Section of the Italian Amateur Astronomers Union, have spotted the galaxy Pisces VII/ Tri III.
Further research is needed, but it’s possible that Pisces VII/ Tri III is an isolated dwarf galaxy or a satellite of the Triangulum galaxy (M33), a spiral galaxy 2.73 million light-years from Earth.
If it is indeed an isolated dwarf galaxy, it would be the faintest field galaxy ever spotted and if it’s a satellite, it gives additional insight that the theory behind galaxy formation is accurate.
A group of astronomers, including an amateur, have discovered a new galaxy, Galaxy Pisces VII/ Tri III
Giuseppe Donatiello (pictured) found the galaxy by looking at public images to find new galaxies in the Andromeda system
Donatiello said that he found the galaxy by looking at public images of the DESI Legacy Survey to find new galaxies in the Andromeda system when he stumbled upon Pisces VII/ Tri III.
‘I found Pisces VII through the visual inspection in public images of the DESI Legacy Survey, precisely in order to identify new satellites in the Andromeda system, outside the areas already investigated in the past,’ Donatiello said in a statement.
‘I knew the likelihood of finding something new was real and I was right. A new galaxy has not been found in the Andromeda subgroup since 2013.’
Donatiello said that he found the galaxy by looking at public images of the DESI Legacy Survey to find new galaxies in the Andromeda system when he stumbled upon Pisces VII/ Tri III
The implications of it being a dwarf galaxy or satellite are fairly significant for astronomers.
Emily Charles, a PhD student at the University of Surrey who worked on the project, said in a separate statement: ‘Theoretical knowledge about galaxy formation means we’d expect to see many more little galaxies orbiting the Triangulum galaxy, M33.
‘However, so far it only has one known satellite. If this newly identified galaxy does belong to M33, it might imply that there are many more that haven’t been uncovered yet as they are too faint to show up in previous surveys of the system.
‘M33 currently challenges astrophysicists’ assumptions, but this new finding starts reassuring us that our theories are correct.’
Galaxy Pisces VII/ Tri III could be an isolated dwarf galaxy or a satellite of the Triangulum galaxy (M33)
The discovery was made using the Galileo National Telescope.
After analyzing the data from the GNT, it was determined that the ‘absolute magnitude and a first estimate of the distance, estimated at about 3.2 million light years,’ according to the statement.
If it is indeed estimated at around 3.2 million light-years, it is likely to be a satellite galaxy of M33, but if it’s further away, that would likely make it a dwarf galaxy.
Further research from more powerful telescopes are needed to more accurately identify its exact location in space
Further research from more powerful telescopes are needed to more accurately identify its exact location in space.
Noushin Karim, another PhD student at the University of Surrey who helped identify Pisces VII/ Tri III, said:
‘Deep imaging from Hubble would allow us to reach fainter stars which act as more robust distance estimators, as they have a standard brightness.
‘To confirm the new galaxy’s movement, we need imaging from an 8m or 10m telescope, like Keck or Gemini.’
In February, scientists confirmed that a halo of dark matter surrounding a dwarf galaxy 163,000 light-years from Earth is significantly larger than previously thought.
Last month, researchers discovered that more than 1,600 fast radio bursts emanated from FRB 121102 over the span of 47 days in 2019, believed to come from a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years from Earth.
NASAs Hubble Space Telescope is still working and has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990
The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
It is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889.
He is arguably most famous for discovering that the universe is expanding and the rate at which is does so – now coined the Hubble constant.
The Hubble telescope is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific papers.
It orbits Earth at a speed of about 17,000mph (27,300kph) in low Earth orbit at about 340 miles in altitude.
Hubble has the pointing accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s head on a dime roughly 200 miles (320km) away.
The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for coming up with the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all-time
Hubble’s primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across and in total is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long – the length of a large school bus.
Hubble’s launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope.
Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same.