Monday, April 30, 2018

ESA's Gaia Mission Releases 3D Colour Map of 1.7 Billion Stars in the Milky Way

 The European Space Agency has released a new 3D map of the Milky Way filled with nearly 1.7 billion stars plotted using data retrieved from the Gaia spacecraft. The coloured map is promised to unleash hundreds of scientific discoveries about our galaxy and beyond.
 Unlike the first data release in 2016, this public catalogue will include the positions, distances, motions, brightness and colours of over 1.3 billion stars. The data will also reveal the surface temperature of about 100 million stars and the effect of interstellar dust on 87 million stars.
  “The second Gaia data release represents a huge leap forward with respect to ESA’s Hipparcos satellite, Gaia’s predecessor and the first space mission for astrometry, which surveyed some 118 000 stars almost thirty years ago,” says Anthony Brown of Leiden University, The Netherlands.
 “The new Gaia data are so powerful that exciting results are just jumping at us,” says Antonella Vallenari from the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) and the Astronomical Observatory of Padua, Italy, deputy chair of the data processing consortium executive board. “For example, we have built the most detailed Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of stars ever made on the full sky and we can already spot some interesting trends. It feels like we are inaugurating a new era of Galactic archaeology.”

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Or download a high-resolution copy of the map here:

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