Astronomers Discover ‘Peekaboo’ Galaxy That Was Hiding Behind a Star

Astronomers Discover ‘Peekaboo’ Galaxy That Was Hiding Behind a Star

It’s totally possible for a single star to block astronomers from seeing an entire galaxy. They recently got confirmation that such a scenario is feasible. One of the reasons is that the Universe is unfathomably huge. 

The term HIPASS J1131-31, or Peekaboo, might not say anything to you. That’s because both are the monikers of the same galaxy that recently emerged from its ‘hiding place,’ according to a new study that’s accepted to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

22 million light-years away

The newfound galaxy is located about 22 million light-years away from Earth. However, astronomers suspected the galaxy’s existence for many years, but it turned out that the space structure was ‘hiding’ behind one of the bright stars from our own Milky Way galaxy.

The discovery is also important because it indicates an example of galaxy formation processes that took place not long after the Big Bang – 13.8 billion years ago, to be more precise.

Bärbel Koribalski, a professor and also an astronomer at the national science agency CSIRO of Australia, explained, as NASA’s website quotes:

At first we did not realize how special this little galaxy is,

Now with combined data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), and others, we know that the Peekaboo Galaxy is one of the most metal-poor galaxies ever detected.

HIPASS J1131-31 is also classified as a dwarf galaxy, and there’s no wonder why if we take a look at its measurements: it only reaches 1,200 light-years across.

Even though the Big Bang is the primarily accepted theory describing how our Universe began to exist in a more familiar state to us, there are still questions left unanswered. No scientist can provide irrefutable answers for what existed before the ‘bang’ itself or how the laws of physics began to exist, for instance.

Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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