Gaia’s Billion Star Map Hints At Treasures To Come

Gaia’s Billion Star Map Hints At Treasures To Come

gaia_s_first_sky_map_large

Gaia’s first sky map. Source: ESA

The first catalogue of more than a billion stars from ESA’s Gaia satellite was published today – the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date.

On its way to assembling the most detailed 3D map ever made of our Milky Way galaxy, Gaia has pinned down the precise position on the sky and the brightness of 1142 million stars.

As a taster of the richer catalogue to come in the near future, today’s release also features the distances and the motions across the sky for more than two million stars.

“Gaia is at the forefront of astrometry, charting the sky at precisions that have never been achieved before,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science.

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way. Source: ESA.

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way. Source: ESA.

“Today’s release gives us a first impression of the extraordinary data that await us and that will revolutionise our understanding of how stars are distributed and move across our Galaxy.”

Launched 1000 days ago, Gaia started its scientific work in July 2014. This first release is based on data collected during its first 14 months of scanning the sky, up to September 2015.

“The beautiful map we are publishing today shows the density of stars measured by Gaia across the entire sky, and confirms that it collected superb data during its first year of operations,” says Timo Prusti, Gaia project scientist at ESA.

Source: ESA

Gaia’s Billion-Star Map Hints At Treasures To Come

Gaia’s Billion-Star Map Hints At Treasures To Come

gaia_s_first_sky_map_node_full_image_2

Gaia’s first sky map. Source ESA/Gaia/DPAC

The first catalogue of more than a billion stars from ESA’s Gaia satellite was published today – the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date.

On its way to assembling the most detailed 3D map ever made of our Milky Way galaxy, Gaia has pinned down the precise position on the sky and the brightness of 1142 million stars.

As a taster of the richer catalogue to come in the near future, today’s release also features the distances and the motions across the sky for more than two million stars.

“Gaia is at the forefront of astrometry, charting the sky at precisions that have never been achieved before,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science.

Artist's impression of Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way. Source ESA/ATG medialab; background: ESO/S. Brunier

Artist’s impression of Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way. Source ESA/ATG medialab; background: ESO/S. Brunier

“Today’s release gives us a first impression of the extraordinary data that await us and that will revolutionise our understanding of how stars are distributed and move across our Galaxy.”

Launched 1000 days ago, Gaia started its scientific work in July 2014. This first release is based on data collected during its first 14 months of scanning the sky, up to September 2015.

“The beautiful map we are publishing today shows the density of stars measured by Gaia across the entire sky, and confirms that it collected superb data during its first year of operations,” says Timo Prusti, Gaia project scientist at ESA.

Source: ESA

Star Size Comparison – Amazing Reminder of How Small We Are

Star Size Comparison – Amazing Reminder of How Small We Are

While there’s a vast amount of space yet to be explored, it’s easy to forget how much we’ve already learned. And this video shows you how small our little planet actually is.

Note that the true sizes of most stars outside of the Sun and Betelgeuse are not known by direct observation, but rather inferred by measurements of their perceived brightness, temperature, and distance.

Proxima Centauri: The Closest Star

Proxima Centauri: The Closest Star

ProximaCentauri_Hubble_960

Does the closest star to our Sun have planets? No one is sure — but you can now follow frequent updates of a new search that is taking place during the first few months of this year. The closest star, Proxima Centauri, is the nearest member of the Alpha Centauri star system.

Light takes only 4.24 years to reach us from Proxima Centauri. This small red star, captured in the center of the featured image by the Hubble Space Telescope, is so faint that it was only discovered in 1915 and is only visible through a telescope. Telescope-created X-shaped diffraction spikes surround Proxima Centauri, while several stars further out in our Milky Way Galaxy are visible in the background.

The brightest star in the Alpha Centauri system is quite similar to our Sun, has been known as long as recorded history, and is the third brightest star in the night sky. The Alpha Centauri system is primarily visible from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere.

Starting last week, the European Southern Observatory’s Pale Red Dot project began investigating slight changes in Proxima Centauri to see if they result from a planet — possibly an Earth-sized planet. Although unlikely, were a modern civilization found living on a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, its proximity makes it a reasonable possibility that humanity could communicate with them.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Source: APOD

Watch Hundreds of Exoplanets Twirl Around Their Stars In This Stunning Video

Watch Hundreds of Exoplanets Twirl Around Their Stars In This Stunning Video

Watch hundreds of exoplanets twirl around their stars.

All of the Kepler multi-planet systems (1705 planets in 685 systems as of 24 November 2015) on the same scale as the Solar System (the dashed lines).

The size of the orbits are all to scale, but the size of the planets are not. For example, Jupiter is actually 11x larger than Earth, but that scale makes Earth-size planets almost invisible (or Jupiters annoyingly large). The orbits are all synchronized such that Kepler observed a planet transit every time it hits an angle of 0 degrees (the 3 o’clock position on a clock).

Planet colors are based on their approximate equilibrium temperatures, as shown in the legend.

Dan Fabricky’s latest animation of Kepler Multiple-Planet Systems – Orrery III (11/5/13). It is an animation showing all the multiple-planet systems discovered by Kepler. Orbits go through the entire mission (3.5 years). Hot colors to Cool colors (Red to yellow to green to cyan to blue to gray) are Big planets to Smaller planets, relative to the other planets in the system.

Source: astro.uchicago.edu