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 Astronomers Discover Nearby Spiral Galaxy Hidden Behind the
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Astronomers Discover Nearby Spiral Galaxy Hidden Behind the Milky Way

February 5, 2005
This visual light image of a newly discovered galaxy called "Dwingeloo 1," was taken with the Isaac Newton Telescope on La Palma in the Canary Islands (Administered by the Royal Greenwich Observatory, United Kingdom).

Though only ten million light-years away (or five times the distance of the Andromeda galaxy - closest city of stars to our Milky Way Galaxy), this newly discovered collection of more than 100 billion stars has gone undetected previously because it is hidden from view behind our Milky Way galaxy. It probably belongs to a nearby group of galaxies that include two named Maffei 1 and 2.

The galaxy appears as a distinctive barred-spiral-shaped object embedded in a dense starfield of hundreds of foreground stars comprising our own Milky Way galaxy. Because the galaxy is only faintly visible through obscuring dust and gas in the Milky Way, it is possible that astronomers are seeing only the central part of a much larger galaxy.

The new galaxy was initially detected in radio light that penetrates this obscuring dust, and the ground-based telescopes were used to directly observe the galaxy.

This color picture is a combination of three images taken through several color filters. The picture covers an area of the sky 1/6 the diameter of the full Moon (about 5 arc0-minutes across).


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