Case Western Reserve University astronomers have announced the discovery of a new galaxy, termed Andromeda VIII. The new galaxy is so widespread and transparent that astronomers did not suspect its existence until they mapped the velocity of stars thought to belong to the well-known and nearby large Andromeda spiral galaxy and found them to move independently of Andromeda.
Heather Morrison, Paul Harding and Denise Hurley-Keller of Case's department of astronomy and George Jacoby of the WIYN Observatory, will report their discovery in an upcoming article in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
"This is particularly exciting because it allows us to watch the ongoing growth of the nearby Andromeda galaxy from smaller galaxies," says Morrison.
The astronomers used Case's Burrell Schmidt telescope and the 3.5m WIYN telescope to identify the galaxy. Both telescopes are located at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz. NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
The newly found galaxy is being torn apart into streams of stars, which leaves a trail of stars that are strung out along the new galaxy's orbit around the Andromeda galaxy in the way a jet's contrail shows its route. Andromeda is the nearest large spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy two million light years away. It is visible as a hazy glowing object to the naked eye in a dark sky in the northern hemisphere and is found in the constellation of Andromeda.
Discovered over 1,000 years ago by the Persian astronomer Azophi Al-Sufi, Andromeda is a member of the Local Group of approximately 30 galaxies in the Milky Way's celestial backyard.