[extropy-chat] ultra-compact dwarfs found lurking

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Sat Apr 3 05:43:47 UTC 2004


ASTRONOMERS using the Anglo-Australian telescope in NSW have discovered 
more than 40 previously unknown "dwarf" galaxies.

The team of 12 scientists from five countries found the objects, so small 
they looked like stars, hidden in the nearby Fornax cluster of galaxies, 
they said in a statement issued in Sydney.

The Fornax cluster is 60 million light-years away, "in astronomical 
terms,on Earth's doorstep", they said.

Michael Drinkwater, the team leader from the University of Queensland, said 
the galaxies belonged to a class dubbed "ultra-compact dwarfs" (UCD).

UCDs were unknown until the same team using the Anglo-Australian telescope 
in NSW discovered six of them in the Fornax cluster in 2000.

The new discovery was formally announced on Thursday at a meeting of the 
Royal Astronomical Society in Britain.

Drinkwater said researchers now believe the dwarf galaxies outnumber 
conventional elliptical and spiral galaxies in the central region of the 
Fornax cluster.


Follow-up observations with the Hubble Space Telescope and the European 
Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope revealed that while Ultra 
Compact Dwarfs have masses similar to those of previously known dwarf 
galaxies, they are much smaller -- about 120 light years across.

"Tens of millions of stars are squashed into what is a tiny volume by 
galaxy standards," the observatory said in a statement.


Get excited, Robert!  :)

Damien Broderick

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