London: The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a mysterious solitary dwarf galaxy – a type that is smaller and messier than its cosmic cousins, lacking the majestic swirl of a spiral or the coherence of an elliptical.
This galaxy is known as UGC 4879. There are about 2.3 million light years between UGC 4879 and its closest neighbour, Leo A, which is about the same distance as that between the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way, the European Space Agency said in a statement.
Launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency.
This galaxy’s isolation means that it has not interacted with any surrounding galaxies, making it an ideal laboratory for studying star formation uncomplicated by interactions with other galaxies, the statement added.
Studies of UGC 4879 have revealed a significant amount of star formation in the first four billion years after the Big Bang, followed by a strange nine-billion-year lull in star formation that ended one billion years ago by a more recent re-ignition.
The reason for this behaviour, however, remains mysterious, and the solitary galaxy continues to provide ample study material for astronomers looking to understand the complex mysteries of star birth throughout the universe.
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