Gaia Reveals The Last Mystery Of The Restless Milky Way – 06/13/2022 at 15:37


A map of the galaxy based on data from Gaia provided by ESA (EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / -) on June 13, 2022.

Astronomers are shaking their heads: The Gaia Space Telescope on Monday released its new data on nearly two billion stars in the Milky Way, with incredible precision that makes it possible to draw a map of our galaxy, bubbling with life.

“This is a wonderful day for astronomy, which opens the floodgate to new discoveries about the universe and our galaxies,” said Joseph Ashbacher, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), who launched the mission in 2013.

The Space Observatory, located 1.5 million kilometers away from the Earth opposite the Sun, is part of its third data collection, aimed at mapping our galaxy at all its dimensions and thus understanding its source, its structure and its dynamics.

Equipped with two telescopes and a photographic sensor of one billion pixels, Gaia scans a very small fraction (barely 1%) of the stars in our galaxy, measuring 100,000 light-years in diameter.

The figures unveiled on Monday are incomprehensible: analyzing 700 million data sent to Earth every day, over a period of 34 months, Gaia was able to provide information on more than 1.8 billion stars.

– “Patachen’s Life” –


“You’re here”: Thanks to Galactic artist Impress Gaia (European Space Agency / -)

A host of unprecedented details, such as these 220 million photometric spectra, have been provided, which will make it possible to estimate the mass, color, temperature and age of stars for the first time. And 2.5 million new chemical combinations, this “DNA” informs about the birthplace of stars and their journey through galaxies.

Or 35 million radial velocities, which measure the displacement of stars and offer a new understanding of the motion of the Milky Way.

Wonders for Scientists: For the first time, Gaia observed a “vibration” of a star, a tiny movement on the surface of a star that changes its shape. The discovery opens up “a gold mine for giant stars + astronomy +”, as Connie Arts of the University of Louvain (Belgium), a member of the Gaia collaboration, explains their internal functioning.

A map of the galaxy based on data from Gaia provided by ESA (EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / -) on June 13, 2022.

A map of the galaxy based on data from Gaia provided by ESA (EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / -) on June 13, 2022.

“At all levels, Gaia has exceeded expectations,” welcomed AFP Francois Mignard, scientific manager of the Gaia mission in France.

The results, which gave rise to nearly fifty scientific articles in the process, painted a much more turbulent portrait of a galaxy than expected, astronomers at the Coast Observatory told AFP. Azure

“We thought it had reached a steady state, slowly turning itself on, like a liquid that gently shakes with a wooden spoon. But not at all!”, Develops Francois Mignard.

His “+ life as a patch + accident, formed by unexpected movements and not as easy as this spiral” which he described. For example, our solar system “does not rotate in a vertical plane, it moves up and down, up and down”, Francois Mignard noted.

– “Star Crucible” –

It is home to a very diverse population of stars, some of which have not been there since the beginning but may have been “swallowed” along the way by interacting with nearby Sagittarius dwarf galaxies.

Reconstruction of more than 150,000 asteroid orbits, pictured by ESA on June 13, 2022 (European Space Agency / -)

Reconstruction of more than 150,000 asteroid orbits, pictured by ESA on June 13, 2022 (European Space Agency / -)

“Our galaxy is a great melting pot of stars,” summarizes Alejandra Resio-Blanco of the Cote d’Azur Observatory.

The level of accuracy of Gaia is such that it would “allow us to explore the galaxy’s past for more than 10 billion years,” added Anthony Brown, president of the international consortium DPAC, the ground processing chain of data streams transmitted by Gaia. .

The stars have the peculiarity of living for billions of years: their analysis is equivalent to the study of a fossil, informing us of the state of the galaxy at the time of its formation, underlining astronomers.

With the help of the second catalog given in 2018, astronomers were able to show that our galaxy was “united” ten billion years ago.

The new catalog also offers unparalleled precise measurements for 156,000 asteroids in our solar system, breaking down a combination of 60,000.

It will take five years to provide this third catalog of observations spread from 2014 to 2017. And it will have to wait until 2030 to get the final version, when Gaia will finish space scanning in 2025.

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