Dark Energy Survey finds more celestial neighbors

New dwarf galaxy candidates could mean our sky is more crowded than we thought

Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey, using one of the world’s most powerful digital cameras, have discovered eight more faint celestial objects hovering near our Milky Way galaxy. Signs indicate that they, like the objects found by the same team earlier this year, are likely dwarf satellite galaxies, the smallest and closest known form of galaxies.

Satellite galaxies are small celestial objects that orbit larger galaxies, such as our own Milky Way. Dwarf galaxies can be found with fewer than 1,000 stars, in contrast to the Milky Way, an average-size galaxy containing billions of stars. Scientists have predicted that larger galaxies are built from smaller galaxies, which are thought to be especially rich in dark matter, the substance that makes up about 25 percent of the total matter and energy in the universe. Dwarf satellite galaxies, therefore, are considered key to understanding dark matter and the process by which larger galaxies form.

Read more in the press release here.

The Dark Energy Survey has now mapped one-eighth of the full sky (red shaded region). This map has led to the discovery of 17 dwarf galaxy candidates in the past six months (red dots), including eight new candidates announced today. Several of the candidates are in close proximity to the two largest dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, both of which are visible to the unaided eye. Illustration: Dark Energy Survey Collaboration