ESA’s Gaia Is Working Hard To Map The Entire Milky Way Galaxy

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The batch of data sent by Gaia in 2018 offered a large amount of new information which changed many fields of astronomy. It allowed researchers to create a complex catalog which highlights several traits, among which we can count position, distance, brightness and other, for more than one billion stars which can be found within the Milky Way Galaxy.

The feat is quite impressive, but it is merely the beginning. The catalog was elaborated by using data which was collected in the first 20 months of activity, but the satellite has been scanning the sky for five years, and it will remain active until 2022. New data will be beamed to Earth in recent years, allowing scientists to improve the current measurements and learn more data which contributes to the task of charting the galaxy.

ESA’s Gaia Is Working Hard To Map The Entire Milky Way Galaxy

A team of astronomers decided to compile the latest Gaia data along with infrared and optical observations recorded on the ground to create a preview which could anticipate some of the future reveals. They focused on two stellar parameters which appear in data sent by Gaia: the surface temperature of stars and the amount of dust which blocks the view towards the star, making it look redder.

While the two parameters are interconnected, they can be evaluated independently with the help of data collected by observing the dust with infrared observations. The data was processed with the help of a custom computer code called StarHorse. The system can compare stellar models and observation to determine the extinction, surface temperature, and distance to the stars. The results are quite useful as they improved what researchers knew about the distances related to 150 million stars, enabling them to estimate their distribution of stars across the Milky Way. In the long run, researchers believe that they will be able to trace the evolution of the Milky Way from its origins.


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