This morning, the ecu Space Company unveiled a brand new, highly specific sky map of the Milky Method Galaxy that showcases the brightness and positions of just about 1.7 billion stars. It ’s probably the most comprehensive catalog of stars to this point, and it comprises exact information about many of the stars ’ distances, movements, and hues in addition. With the map ’s free up, astronomers are hoping to make use of this information to be told extra about the structure of our galactic home and how it first formed billions of years ago.
The map came in conjunction with data from ESA ’s Gaia spacecraft. Introduced in 2013, the spacecraft sits just about 1 million miles from Earth, and it ’s incessantly scanning the sky with two telescopes. To get a thorough view of the galaxy ’s stars, the vehicle rotates once each and every six hours, mapping one large circle of the sky. The Gaia project team also adjustments the placement of the spacecraft ’s axis, too, permitting the car to cover all the sky in -month increments. By Way Of doing more than one scans of the full sky, ESA will get repeated measurements of the same stars again and again.
The map came along side information from ESA ’s Gaia spacecraft
ESA released a initial map of Gaia ’s knowledge again in 2016 based on 14 months of scanning. That one confirmed the fitting positions of greater than 1.1 billion stars. But lately ’s map is overflowing with much more data, thanks to information collected over the course of 22 months. The chart main points the distances and motions of as much as 1.3 billion stars, as well as to positions and brightness. Astronomers were capable of degree the colors of 1.3 billion stars, too, that is a characteristic that provides so much of data approximately what the celebrities are fabricated from and the way antique they’re.
Plus, the Gaia data includes details about how briskly some stars are moving toward us or away from us, in what is known as radial pace. Astronomers had been capable of make this measurement for 7 million stars. “It ’s a small quantity compared to the 1.7 billion, nevertheless it ’s nonetheless the largest radial velocity survey ever performed,” Anthony Brown, an astronomer at the Leiden Observatory who works on the Gaia mission, tells The Verge.
And it ’s not just Milky Techniques stars that Gaia mapped, either. The spacecraft found the positions of half 1,000,000 distant galaxies, too, to boot as gadgets a lot towards house. Scientists pinpointed the positions of 14,000 asteroids in our Sun Device thanks to Gaia data.
Gaia scientists desire this data will help astronomers further their understanding of the physics of stars. Knowing the space of a celebrity is important for working out how vivid the item is, as an example. “Distance is the one way we will be able to tell if a selected famous person looks vibrant within the sky as it ’s intrinsically brilliant or that it occurs to be local and is definitely faint,” says Brown.
the dimensions of items mapped via Gaia. Image: ESA / CC BY WAY OF-SA 3.0 IGO
However peculiarly, the new Gaia map might help astronomers piece in combination the history of the Milky Way ’s formation. It ’s thought that our galaxy grew into its current shape after merging with much smaller galaxies billions of years ago, in step with Brown. Those small galaxies serve as the construction blocks of our galactic house, and the catalog may show astronomers where the celebs from those earlier techniques are today. “These stars from the small galaxies of the previous are spread out all over the place the sky, however you can nonetheless acknowledge they belong together via in view that their orbits are all the similar,” says Brown. “So the properties of the celebrities… lets in us mainly to do archeology of the Milky Approach.”
As intensive as today ’s map is, there ’s much more information to return. The Gaia undertaking is deliberate to ultimate for an entire five years, and ESA scientists desire to increase the mission for an additional 5 years in a while. “That has the advantage, now not so much that we will measure more stars, but all of the measurements turns into extra accurate,” says Brown.