Hubble spotted a new hidden galaxy


Hubble and other telescopes discovered the tiny galaxy that is, by the way, one of the most stunning examples of extremely metal-poor galaxies, meaning its chemical makeup has hardly changed in more than 13 billion years . At 20 million light-years away from Earth, this is still the closest such galaxy to us.


The celestial object has a diameter of 1,200 light-years, a minimum extent for a galaxy. It is known as HIPASS J1131-31, but astronomers have given it another nickname: Peekaboo Galaxy (transl. Cuckoo Galaxy ). The reason is that it has only emerged in the last few decades from behind a bright, fast-moving star.

“At first we didn’t realize how special this little galaxy was,” co-author Professor Bärbel Koribalski, an astronomer at Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, said in a statement. “Now, thanks to the combined data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) and other telescopes, we know that the Peekaboo Galaxy is one of the most metal-poor galaxies ever detected.”

These telescopes were able to study the composition of 60 stars belonging to this small galaxy. They are all relatively young , a few billion years old or younger, unlike many of the stars in the galaxies of the known universe. Add to this the scarcity of heavier metals and you have a perplexing subject that should be studied further in the future.


“Because of Peekaboo’s proximity, we can conduct detailed observations, opening up the possibility of seeing an environment resembling the early Universe in unprecedented detail,” added co-author Gagandeep Anand of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.


The study is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

  • Peekaboo! Tiny, Hidden Galaxy Provides a Peek Into the Past (


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