Space explorer Gaia unveiled his latest discovery on Monday as he attempts to map the Milky Way in unprecedented detail, surveying nearly two million stars and uncovering mysterious “stellar stars” that cross the fiery giants like a huge tsunami.
The mission’s third dataset, issued to astronomers around the world eagerly awaiting at 1000 GMT, “revolutionizes our understanding of the galaxy,” the European Space Agency (ESA) said.
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher told a press conference that it was “a great day for astronomy” as the data will open “the floods for new science, for the new fruits of our universe, our Milky Way”.
Some of the map’s new insights came close to home, such as a catalog of more than 156,000 asteroids in our Solar System. AFP.
But Gaia also sees outside the Milky Way, observing a further 2.9 million galaxies as well as 1.9 million cousins - the brilliantly bright hearts of galaxies powered by giant black holes.
The Gaia spacecraft is located in an orbit strategically located 1.5 million kilometers (937,000 miles) from Earth, where it has been observing the skies since its launch by ESA in 2013.
The observation of the star vibrations, massive vibrations that change the shape of the distant star, was “one of the most remarkable discoveries of the new data,” the ESA said.
Gaia was not built to observe star vibrations but still felt the strange phenomenon of thousands of stars, including some that should have none – at least according to our current understanding of the universe.
– ‘disturbed’ galaxy –
“We have a brand new gold mine to make the astronomy of hundreds of thousands of stars in our galaxy in the Milky War,” said Conny Aerts, a member of the Gaia team.
Gaia has surveyed more than 1.8 billion stars but that is only about one percent of the stars in the Milky Way, which is about 100,000 light-years across.
The explorer is equipped with two telescopes as well as a billion pixel camera, which captures images sharp enough to measure the diameter of a single strand of human hair 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away.
There are also a range of other tools that allow you to not only map the stars, but also measure their movements, chemical composition and ages.
Extremely accurate data allows us to “look at more than 10 billion years of the history of our Milky Way in the past,” said Anthony Brown, chairman of the Consortium for Data Processing and Analysis, which screened the vast amount details.
Gaia’s results are already “far beyond what we expected” at this point, Mignard said.
They show that our galaxy is not moving smoothly through the universe as intended but is “disturbed” and “undisturbed”, he said.
“There have been many accidents in his life and they are still there” while interacting with other galaxies, he said. “It may never stop.”
“Our galaxy is indeed a living entity, where things are born, where they die,” Aerts said.
– ‘Thousands of exoplanets’ –
“The surrounding galaxies are constantly interacting with our galaxy and sometimes falling into it as well”.
Approximately 50 scientific papers have been published alongside the new data, with many more expected in the coming years.
Gaia’s comments have inspired thousands of studies since its first dataset was released in 2016.
The second dataset in 2018 allowed astronomers to show that the Milky Way merged with another galaxy in a violent collision about 10 billion years ago.
It took the team five years to deliver the latest data, which was observed from 2014 to 2017.
The final dataset will be released in 2030, after Gaia completes its survey survey of the skies in 2025.
Monday’s release only confirmed two new exoplanets – and 200 other potential candidates – but many more are expected in the future.
“In principle Gaia, especially when it goes for the entire 10 years, should be able to detect thousands of extraterrestrials as far as the mass of Jupiter,” Brown said.
Space probe reveals secrets of ‘restless’ Milky Way Source link Space probe reveals secrets of ‘restless’ Milky Way