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Science

New Galaxy Discovered by UCLA Researchers (Really), but It's a 'Dwarf'

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Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM

click to enlarge AUSTIN POWERS
  • Austin Powers
UCLA researchers today announced that they've discovered a new galaxy.

And not just any galaxy, but a "dwarf galaxy." Despite its relatively Manny Pacquiao-like dimensions, the new-to-us baby known as NGC 4449B is, when stretched out, bigger than the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy, according to our friends in Westwood.

What's really extraordinary about this find:

Other researchers failed to find the dwarf using the Hubble Space Telescope, but UCLA's guys found it with the underdog Centurion 28 telescope, located at the Polaris Observatory Association near Frazier Park.

Not only that, but one of the dwarf's pioneers is a professor of finance at the UCLA Anderson School of Management who happens to be an amateur astronomer: Francis Longstaff.

Way to use your free time.

click to enlarge The Milky Way (the swirl), our sun (indicated) and 4449B (the blob on the lower right) - UCLA
  • UCLA
  • The Milky Way (the swirl), our sun (indicated) and 4449B (the blob on the lower right)

Anyhoo, NGC 4449B is being "dissolved" by the gravitational pull of the larger NGC 4449 galaxy, which is, according to, UCLA research astronomer Michael Rich ...

... forming stars "so furiously" that it has giant clusters of young stars and even appears bluish -- a sign of a young galaxy -- to the eye in large amateur telescopes ...

Baby 4449 is not so fruitful. UCLA:

... The dwarf galaxy has been stretched into a comet-like shape by this gravitational encounter.

NGC 4449B had remained undetected because it is more than 10 times fainter than the natural brightness of the night sky and some 1,000 times fainter than our own Milky Way galaxy. The dwarf galaxy is in a "transient stage," Rich said, and will soon -- by astronomical standards -- be dissolved.

Aw. Circle of life.

Read more here.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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