SCIENCE

'Squeaky-Clean' Neighbor Galaxy Lacks Any Dust

  • Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Jan, 27, 2016, 04:59 PM
Tags : Galaxy, NASA
(Photo : NASA, ESA, AND THE HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM (STSCI/AURA))

The Milky Way galaxy has a neighbor with the quite an anal personality. IC 1613 is a nearby dwarf galaxy with all of the qualities of a typical galaxy - except dust.

According to Discovery, the galaxy has no dust at all. The irregular dwarf galaxy sits in the constellation Cetus. It is 2.3 million light-years away, and although that seems far away, it is still considered one of our neighbors. In fact, the Milky Way has over 50 neighbor galaxies surrounding it.

ESO released an image of the "squeaky-clean" galaxy.


(Photo: ESO)

 

Since it is nearby, astronomers have studied the galaxy frequently. They have learned that it lacks a starry disc that is found in many other galaxies.

"However, what IC 1613 lacks in form, it makes up for in tidiness," said ESO officials in a statement. "We know IC 1613's distance to a remarkably high precision, partly due to the unusually low levels of dust lying both within the galaxy and along the line of sight from the Milky Way - something that enables much clearer observations."

Astronomers pinpointed IC 1613's location by studying the Cepheid variable and RR Lyrae stars that accompany it. The timing of the light pulses from these stars allows astronomers to calculate its distance. They then relate the stars to candles, with the dimmest stars being the furthest.

"Using standard candles - such as the variable stars within IC 1613 and the less-common Type IA supernova explosions, which can [be] seen across far greater cosmic distances - astronomers have pieced together a cosmic distance ladder, reaching deeper and deeper into space," ESO officials said in the statement.

The star was observed with the OmegaCAM. It is a 256-million-pixel camera attached to the 2.6-meter VLT Survey Telescope at Paranal Observatory in Chile. It was first seen in 1906 by German astronomer Max Wolf.

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