Gaia creates richest map of Milky Way galaxy

Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) have produced the richest star catalogue to date, including high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and revealing previously unseen details of the Milky Way galaxy. A multitude of discoveries is on the horizon after this much-awaited release, which is based on 22 months of charting the sky.

The new data includes positions, distance indicators and motions of more than one billion stars, along with high-precision measurements of asteroids within our solar system and stars beyond our own Milky Way galaxy. Preliminary analysis of data from ESA’s Gaia space observatory reveals fine details about the makeup of the Milky Way’s stellar population and about how stars move, essential information for investigating the formation and evolution of our home Galaxy.”The observations collected by Gaia are redefining the foundations of astronomy,” said Gunther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science.

About GAIA:

Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy.

The mission relies on a huge human collaboration to make sense of a large volume of highly complex data. It demonstrates the need for long-term projects to guarantee progress in space science and technology and to implement even more daring scientific missions of the coming decades.

Launched on December 19, 2013, the Gaia satellite both rotates and orbits around the Earth while surveying the sky with its two telescopes.

Gaia will provide unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the accuracies needed to produce a stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group. This amounts to about 1 percent of the Galactic stellar population.

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