Dwarf galaxy

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The Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. Picture taken by Hubble.

A dwarf galaxy is a small galaxy composed of about 100 million up to several billion stars, a small number compared to the Milky Way's 200–400 billion stars. The Large Magellanic Cloud, which closely orbits the Milky Way and contains over 30 billion stars, is sometimes classified as a dwarf galaxy; others consider it a full-fledged galaxy. Dwarf galaxies' formation and activity are thought to be heavily influenced by interactions with larger galaxies. Astronomers identify numerous types of dwarf galaxies, based on their shape and composition.

Formation of dwarf galaxies[edit]

Current theory states that most galaxies, including dwarf galaxies, form in association with dark matter, or from gas that contains metals. However, NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer space probe identified new dwarf galaxies forming out of gases lacking metals. These galaxies were located in the Leo Ring, a cloud of hydrogen and helium around two massive galaxies in the constellation Leo.[1]

Because of their small size, dwarf galaxies have been observed being pulled toward and ripped by neighbouring spiral galaxies, resulting in galaxy merger.[2]

Local dwarf galaxies[edit]

The Phoenix Dwarf Galaxy is a dwarf irregular galaxy, featuring younger stars in its inner regions and older ones at its outskirts.[3]

There are many dwarf galaxies in the Local Group; these small galaxies frequently orbit larger galaxies, such as the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy. A 2007 paper[4] has suggested that many dwarf galaxies were created by galactic tides during the early evolutions of the Milky Way and Andromeda. Tidal dwarf galaxies are produced when galaxies collide and their gravitational masses interact. Streams of galactic material are pulled away from the parent galaxies and the halos of dark matter that surround them.[5]

More than 20 known dwarf galaxies orbit the Milky Way, and recent observations[6] have also led astronomers to believe the largest globular cluster in the Milky Way, Omega Centauri, is in fact the core of a dwarf galaxy with a black hole at its centre, which was at some time absorbed by the Milky Way.

Common dwarf galaxy types[edit]

UGC 11411 is a galaxy known as an irregular blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxy.[7]

Blue compact dwarf galaxies[edit]

Blue compact dwarf PGC 51017.[9]

In astronomy, a blue compact dwarf galaxy (BCD galaxy) is a small galaxy which contains large clusters of young, hot, massive stars. These stars, the brightest of which are blue, cause the galaxy itself to appear blue in colour.[10] Most BCD galaxies are also classified as dwarf irregular galaxies or as dwarf lenticular galaxies. Because they are composed of star clusters, BCD galaxies lack a uniform shape. They consume gas intensely, which causes their stars to become very violent when forming.

BCD galaxies cool in the process of forming new stars. The galaxies' stars are all formed at different time periods, so the galaxies have time to cool and to build up matter to form new stars. As time passes, this star formation changes the shape of the galaxies.

Nearby examples include NGC 1705, NGC 2915, NGC 3353 and UGCA 281.[11][12][13][14]

Ultra-compact dwarfs[edit]

Ultra-compact dwarf galaxies (UCD) are a recently discovered[15] class of very compact galaxies with very high stellar populations. They are thought to be on the order of 200 light years across, containing about 100 million stars.[16] It is theorised that these are the cores of nucleated dwarf elliptical galaxies that have been stripped of gas and outlying stars by tidal interactions, travelling through the hearts of rich clusters.[17] UCDs have been found in the Virgo Cluster, Fornax Cluster, Abell 1689, and the Coma Cluster, amongst others.[18] In particular, an unprecedentedly large sample of ~ 100 UCDs has been found in the core region of the Virgo cluster by the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey team. The first ever relatively robust studies of the global properties of Virgo UCDs suggest that UCDs have distinct dynamical [19]and structural [20]properties from normal globular clusters. An extreme UCD example is M60-UCD1, about 54 million light years away, which contains approximately 200 million solar masses within a 160 light year radius and its central region packs in stars about 25 times closer together than stars in Earth's region in the Milky Way.[21][22] M59-UCD3 is approximately the same size as M60-UCD1 with a half-light radius, rh, of approximately 20 parsecs but is 40% more luminous with an apparent relative magnitude of approximately −14.6. This makes M59-UCD3 the densest known galaxy.[23]

Partial list of dwarf galaxies[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Recipe For Dwarf Galaxies: Start With Leftover Gas". Science Daily. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  2. ^ Jaggard, V. (9 September 2010). "Pictures: New Proof Spiral Galaxies Eat, Digest Dwarfs". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  3. ^ "Hubble Sizes up a Dwarf Galaxy". ESA/Hubble. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  4. ^ Metz, M.; Kroupa, P. (2007). "Dwarf-spheroidal satellites: are they of tidal origin?". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 376 (1): 387–392. arXiv:astro-ph/0701289free to read. Bibcode:2007MNRAS.376..387M. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.11438.x. 
  5. ^ "New Recipe for Dwarf Galaxies: Start with Leftover Gas". Newswise.com. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  6. ^ Noyola, E.; Gebhardt, K.; Bergmann, M. (2008). "Gemini and Hubble Space Telescope Evidence for an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole in ω Centauri". The Astrophysical Journal. 676 (2): 1008–1015. arXiv:0801.2782free to read. Bibcode:2008ApJ...676.1008N. doi:10.1086/529002. 
  7. ^ "True blue". ESA/Hubble. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  8. ^ Schombert, J. M.; Pildis, R. A.; Eder, J. A.; Oelmer, A., Jr. (1995). "Dwarf Spirals". The Astronomical Journal. 110: 2067–2074. Bibcode:1995AJ....110.2067S. doi:10.1086/117669. 
  9. ^ "An intriguing young-looking dwarf galaxy". ESA/Hubble. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-21. 
  10. ^ "WISE Discovers Baby Galaxies in the Nearby Universe". WISE. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  11. ^ López-Sánchez, Á. R.; Koribalski, B.; van Eymeren, J.; Esteban, C.; Popping, A.; Hibbard, J. (2010). "The environment of nearby Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies". ASP Conference Series. 421: 65. arXiv:0909.5500free to read. Bibcode:2010ASPC..421...65L. 
  12. ^ Papaderos, P. (7 May 2010). "Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies" (PDF). Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto. 
  13. ^ Noeske, K.; Papaderos, P.; Cairos, L. M. (2003). "New insights to the photometric structure of Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies from deep Near-Infrared Studies" (PDF). Göttingen Observatory. 
  14. ^ Meurer, G. R.; Mackie, G.; Carignan, C. (1994). "Optical observations of NGC 2915: A nearby blue compact dwarf galaxy". The Astronomical Journal. 107 (6): 2021–2035. Bibcode:1994AJ....107.2021M. doi:10.1086/117013. 
  15. ^ Smith, Deborah (29 May 2003). "Star search finds millions masquerading as one". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 5. ISSN 0312-6315. 
  16. ^ Anglo-Australian Observatory Astronomers discover dozens of mini-galaxies 0100 AEST Friday 2 April 2004.
  17. ^ Stelios Kazantzidis; Ben Moore; Lucio Mayer (2003). "Galaxies and Overmerging: What Does it Take to Destroy a Satellite Galaxy?". arXiv:astro-ph/0307362free to read. 
  18. ^ Mieske; Infante; Benitez; Coe; Blakeslee; Zekser; Ford; Broadhurst; et al. (2004). "Ultra Compact Dwarf galaxies in Abell 1689: a photometric study with the ACS". The Astronomical Journal. 128 (4): 1529–1540. arXiv:astro-ph/0406613free to read. Bibcode:2004AJ....128.1529M. doi:10.1086/423701. 
  19. ^ Zhang, Hong-Xin et al. 2015 (March 2015). "The Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey. VI: The Kinematics of Ultracompact Dwarfs and Globular Clusters in M87". The Astrophysical Journal. arXiv:1501.03167free to read. Bibcode:2015ApJ...802...30Z. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/802/1/30. 
  20. ^ Liu, Chengze et al. 2015 (November 2015). "The Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey. X: Properties of Ultracompact Dwarfs in The M87, M49 and M60 Regions". The Astrophysical Journal. arXiv:1508.07334free to read. Bibcode:2015ApJ...812...34L. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/812/1/34. 
  21. ^ Strader, Jay; Seth, Anil C.; Forbes, Duncan A.; Fabbiano, Giuseppina; et al. (August 2013). "The Densest Galaxy". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 775 L6 (1): L6. arXiv:1307.7707free to read. Bibcode:2013ApJ...775L...6S. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/775/1/L6. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  22. ^ "Evidence for densest galaxy in nearby universe". Phys.org (Omicron Technology Ltd). 24 September 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013. What makes M60-UCD1 so remarkable is that about half of this mass is found within a radius of only about 80 light years. The density of stars is about 15,000 times greater—meaning the stars are about 25 times closer to each other—than in Earth's neighborhood in the Milky Way galaxy. 
  23. ^ Sandoval, Michael A.; Vo, Richard P.; Romanowsky, Aaron J.; Strader, Jay; Choi, Jieun; Jennings, Zachary G.; Conroy, Charlie; Brodie, Jean P.; Foster, Caroline; Villaume, Alexa; Norris, Mark A.; Janz, Joachim; Forbes, Duncan A. (23 July 2015). "HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: RECORD-BREAKING COMPACT STELLAR SYSTEMS IN THE SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY". The Astrophysical Journal. 808 (1): L32. arXiv:1506.08828v2free to read. Bibcode:2015ApJ...808L..32S. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/808/1/L32. 
  24. ^ "A stubborn dwarf galaxy". Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  25. ^ "A galaxy of deception". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 

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