The Milky Way Is a Messy Galaxy Compared to Its Neighbor
The Milky Way has an obsessively tidy neighbor: a galaxy called IC 1613. First discovered in 1906, the dwarf galaxy is unusually clean compared to most systems, as a new image from the VLT Survey Telescope in Chile shows.
Space is filled with cosmic dust from stars, comets, and more. And while all that space grime can provide astronomers with useful information about the universe, it can also obscure the objects they want to study.
IC 1613's neat galactic housekeeping has allowed astronomers to very precisely determine its distance from us. By studying the galaxy's R Lyrae variable and Cepheid variable stars, the experts were able to determine that the galaxy is 2.3 million light-years away (relatively close in the grand scope of the universe). Its tidy nature also makes for a pretty good photo op. Take a closer look at the spick-and-span galaxy in the video below.