Gaia Satellite Has Made Possible The Most Complete 3D Sky Map Of Milky Way Showing More Than 1,7 Billion Stars

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The European satellite Gaia has established a new catalog of measures, unveiled this Wednesday, to get a better idea of what our galaxy looks like. Gaia satellite has made it possible to create a 3D sky map of Milky Way of about 1.7 billion stars of Milky Way.

A 360-degree video of this catalog can be watched here.

The Gaia catalog makes it possible to carry out the color, dynamic and three-dimensional cartography of the Milky Way, the most complete and the most precise ever realized to date, underlines the ESA.

“With Gaia, you can really reconstruct the whole history of the Milky Way. It’s like doing archeo-astronomy (…) to truly reconstruct the history of our universe, “said Gunther Hasinger, from ESA.

500 million measurements per day

Launched at the end of 2013, the satellite, which scans the light sources of the space objects in our galaxy, performed 500 million measurements per day. The data is transmitted to the ground and processed by a consortium of 450 scientists from 20 countries.

Gaia, who has been working since 2014, had already established the first catalog of measurements in September 2016, when provided the positions of more than 1 billion stars in the Milky Way but the satellite had determined the distances only for 2 million stars.

22 months of continuous data gathering and “translation” to create the 3D sky map of Milky Way

The new data was collected by Gaia for 22 months between July 2014 and May 2016 and were put online today and everyone can now access this catalog on the internet.

The Gaia catalog now contains the positions and brightness of 1.7 billion stars and it also provides distances and movements of 1.3 billion stars.

Besides, Gaia also counted 14,000 asteroids and calculated their orbit and spotted 500,000 quasars (extremely bright and distant stars that emit a colossal energy) and bright galaxies.

The satellite has the necessary funding to work until 2020 when a third version of the catalog will then be published. ESA hopes Gaia will get the needed funds to work until 2024, before retiring.

In the meantime, Gaia satellite offered us the most complete 3D sky map of Milky Way, by the moment, containing more than 1.7 billion stars, plus asteroids, quasars, and bright distant galaxies.


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