Most detailed 3D map ever of Milky Way includes nearly 2 billion stars

milky way map

The map measures stars nearer to the sting of the Milky Means than ever earlier than.


You may’t simply drive a Google Maps automobile across the Milky Technique to diagram it. It is lucky, then, that new info gathered by the European Space Agency’s Gaia observatory affords essentially the most detailed map but of the galaxy. The challenge’s map now contains virtually 2 billion stars, and it helps the company hint the Milky Means’s historical past.

“The brand new Gaia knowledge promise to be a treasure trove for astronomers,” Jos de Bruijne, ESA’s Gaia deputy challenge scientist, mentioned in a statement.

The brand new info not solely brings the entire variety of stars mapped over seven years as much as near 2 billion, but it surely contains “an in depth census of greater than 300,000 stars in our cosmic neighborhood,” which means stars inside 326 light-years of the solar. That 300,000 quantity is believed to be 92% of the celebs in that space. That is 100 occasions extra stars than the outdated knowledge, which dates again to 1991. 

The brand new knowledge gives location, movement and brightness measurements which are “orders of magnitude” extra actual than the outdated info. In truth, the information is so exact it is revealed that the solar’s path is not a straight line, however barely curved.

“Gaia has been staring on the heavens for the previous seven years, mapping the positions and velocities of stars,” said Caroline Harper, head of area science on the UK House Company. “Because of its telescopes, we have now in our possession at present essentially the most detailed billion-star 3D atlas ever assembled.”

The brand new map helps astronomers make predictions, envisioning the actions of 40,000 stars 1.6 million years into the longer term, the company studies.

This week’s launch is the primary of two components, with the second expected in 2022. Gaia’s “stellar census” began in 2013.

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Gael Fashingbauer Cooper