The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stellar view of the dwarf galaxy UGC 5497, which looks somewhat like salt sprinkled on black velvet in the image below.
According to NASA, the object is a compact blue dwarf galaxy infused with newly formed clusters of stars.
The bright, blue stars that arise in these clusters help to give the galaxy an overall bluish appearance which typically lasts for several million years until these fast-burning stars explode as supernovae.
UGC 5497 is considered part of the M 81 group of galaxies, which is located approximately 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear).
UGC 5497 actually turned up in a ground-based telescope survey back in 2008 which was looking for new dwarf galaxy candidates associated with Messier 81.
According to the leading cosmological theory of galaxy formation known as Lambda Cold Dark Matter, there should be far more satellite dwarf galaxies associated with big galaxies like the Milky Way and Messier 81 than currently mapped.
Locating previously overlooked objects such as this one has helped cut into the expected tally – but only by a small amount. As such, astrophysicists tremain puzzled over the so-called “missing satellite” issue.