European ‘star survey’ reveals celestial treasure trove
The European Space Agency has released a trove of data on almost 2 billion stars in the Milky Way, collected by its Gaia mission in an effort to create the
The European Space Agency has released a trove of data on almost 2 billion stars in the Milky Way, collected by its Gaia mission in an effort to create the most accurate and complete map of our galaxy.
Astronomers hope to use the data to understand better how stars are born and die, and how the Milky Way evolved over billions of years.
The new data includes new information such as the age, mass, temperature and chemical composition of stars. This can be used, for example, to determine which stars were born in another galaxy and then migrated to the Milky Way.
“This is an incredible gold mine for astronomy,” said Antonella Vallenari, who helped lead a consortium of 450 scientists and engineers that spent years turning the measurements collected by the probe into usable data.
Gaia was also able to detect more than 100,000 so-called starquakes, which ESA likened to large tsunamis that ripple across stars. These allow scientists to deduce the density, interior rotation and temperature inside stars, astrophysicist Conny Aerts said.