As part of a mission that includes the University of Geneva, the European satellite "Gaia" has sent back billions of measurements in a mammoth harvest of data that will help researchers build a detailed 3D map of the galaxy.
This second data release adds 600 times more stars with distances, covering a volume 1,000 times larger and all with precisions that are 100 times better.
Gaia's all-sky view of our Milky Way Galaxy and neighbouring galaxies
Data lists the parallax and velocity across the sky or proper motion of more than 1.3 billion stars. The data is transmitted to the ground and processed by a consortium of 450 scientists from 20 countries. And additionally positions, the information incorporate brilliance data of all overviewed stars and shading estimations of about all, in addition to data on how the shine and shade of a large portion of a million variable stars change after some time.
The ESA has been running its Gaia mission for a while now and that mission has produced what is hailed as the "richest star catalog to date". "We weren't allowed to make discoveries, but we couldn't avoid making them", he said.
Just to keep things in perspective: Gaia's map of 1.7 billion stars is just a tiny fraction of the 100 billion (or more) estimated to exist in the Milky Way. There will be future data releases from Gaia which will likely go even further, and its final star catalog may not arrive until some time in the next decade. Based on 22 months of data collected by ESA's Gaia astrometry spacecraft, the survey includes some 14,000 asteroids, detailed observations of globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way's halo and gravitationally bound dwarf galaxies. These microscopic movements are all the more important as the stars are close to us, which allows us to deduce their distance, by a simple geometric rule. "We know exactly where the stars are". The data will be a treat to astronomers around the world.
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"The sheer number of stars alone, with their positions and motions, would make Gaia's new catalogue already quite astonishing", Anthony said in an ESA statement. These stars are situated nearly 8,000 light years away from our Earth.
In an eagerly anticipated development, astronomers have created the largest and most precise 3-D map of the Milky Way galaxy.
The data release was announced at a briefing at the Royal Astronomical Society this morning.
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Antonella Vallenari, one of the lead scientists on the project, tells the AP that the results seems to support a hypothesis that the Milky Way was once hit with material from another galaxy, creating ripples evidenced by stars that move in ways different than expected.
"It represents the most accurate survey ever of asteroids in the Solar System", said Brown.
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The $1 billion (750 million euros) Gaia spacecraft launched in 2013 for a five-year mission to map the night sky with unmatched accuracy.