Building the Ultimate Milky Way Galaxy Map: Here’s What Scientists Have So Far

Alongside the unbelievable world of spaceflight, pioneering satellites and an unbelievable moon touchdown, the European Area Company is specializing in one important mission. It’s merely “creating probably the most correct and full multidimensional map of the Milky Means”.

This bold endeavor known as Gaia, and for the previous a number of years, the European Area Company has been making stable progress in direction of making the dream come true. Collaboration scientists have collected tons of fantastic information on greater than a billion stars throughout our galaxy, recording each thrilling element alongside the best way.

And on Monday, the workforce arrived at an enormous venture checkpoint.

Fortuitously for us, it has additionally launched some nice visuals that embrace the treasure chest of cosmic secrets and techniques collected thus far. This explicit landmark is formally known as the Gaia 3 information launch — and extra importantly, it is one which the European Area Company says is “probably the most detailed Milky Means survey up to now”.

On this dataset, you cannot solely see hundreds of photo voltaic system objects similar to asteroids, moons and different celestial marvels inside our galaxy, however you may as well see thousands and thousands of galaxies and phenomena the surface Milky Means.

Photographing asteroids in our solar system on June 13, 2022.

The situation of every asteroid was plotted at 12:00 CEST on June 13, 2022. Blue represents the inside of the Photo voltaic System, the place asteroids are positioned close to Earth, transit Mars, and the terrestrial planets. The primary belt between Mars and Jupiter is inexperienced. The orange “clouds” correspond to the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.

P. Tanga (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur)

While you have a look at the stats for this survey, it truly is jaw-dropping. This new wealth of galactic intelligence consists of about 6.6 million redshift candidate quasars, also referred to as the hyperbright jets that occupy supermassive black holes, and presumably their precise places. It consists of 4.8 million candidate galaxies, about 813,000 multi-star methods, 2.3 million scorching stars and far more.

Timo Prosti, Challenge Gaia scientist at ESA, mentioned in a press release.

Map with bright spots depicting galaxies and cosmic clouds.

The Massive and Small Magellanic Clouds seem as vibrant spots within the decrease proper nook of the picture. The arc dwarf galaxy seems as a faint semi-vertical band under the middle of the galaxy.

ESA/Gaia/DPAC/CU6, D. Katz, N. Leclerc, P. Sartoretti, and the CU6 workforce.

Some interstellar surprises

In accordance with the workforce, among the many most stunning discoveries within the Gaia 3 information launch are unusual phenomena known as “starquakes”.

Stellar earthquakes are just about what they sound like – small actions on the floor of a star that may change its form or kind. A few of these ESA earthquakes evaluate to vibrations that we affiliate with “large-scale tsunamis” on Earth.

“Starquakes have taught us so much about stars, notably their interior workings. Gaia opens a gold mine for large star science,” mentioned Connie Aerts of KU Leuven in Belgium and a member of the Gaia Collaboration, in a press release.

Seismology for the celebrities is what seismology means for the Earth, the research of earthquakes and different wave propagation. A abstract of the stellar earthquake portion of the brand new Gaia information may be seen under.

One other wonderful discovery is that the Gaia telescope binary – which makes use of a large 1 billion pixel digital camera – can detect the chemical composition of the celebrities below research. This can be a massive deal that would revolutionize the sphere of astronomy.

Briefly, understanding the main points of astral our bodies’ precise chemical substances may help us decipher after they had been born, the place they had been born, and the trail they adopted after they had been born. It could actually reveal a timeline of the universe.

Utilizing the brand new Gaia information, the workforce discovered that some stars have heavier parts than others. The heavier parts are sometimes metals, they usually distinguish themselves from the lighter parts as a result of they’ve a unique core construction.

Photographing the stars in the Milky Way, the most mineral-rich galaxy.

This full-sky view exhibits a pattern of the Milky Means’s stars within the Gaia 3 information launch. The colour signifies stellar mineralization. Purple stars are richer in minerals.

ESA / Gaia

However the important thing level right here is that the lighter parts, from what specialists know thus far, are believed to be the one species current throughout the Huge Bang. Basically, because of this the Gaia 3 information launch offers direct proof of a super-diverse group of stars in our galaxy by way of when and the place they originated.

“This variety is essential, as a result of it tells the story of the formation of our galaxy,” Alejandra Recio Blanco of the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in France and a member of Gaia mentioned in a press release. “It reveals the processes of migration inside our galaxy and accumulation from the outer galaxies.”

Sky map showing the speed of the Milky Way's stars.

This sky map exhibits the Milky Means’s velocity discipline of about 26 million stars. Blue exhibits the elements of the sky the place the typical motion of the celebrities is in direction of us, whereas pink exhibits the place the typical motion is transferring away from us.

ESA/Gaia/DPAC/CU6, O. Snaith, D. Katz, P. Sartoretti, N. Leclerc, and the CU6 workforce.

Taking all of this a step additional, displaying Gaia’s efforts type of reminds us of our place within the universe. Mapping an space far, past the speedy neighborhood of the Earth inevitably imposes human presence in perspective.

Within the phrases of Ricio Blanco, “This clearly exhibits that our Solar, and all of us belong to an ever-changing system, arose because of the assemblage of stars and gases of various origins.”

Different fascinating sightings with Gaia embrace greater than 800 binary star methods, which refer to 2 stars orbiting one another, not like our photo voltaic system’s distinctive Solar, and a brand new asteroid survey of 156,000 rocky our bodies.

Multicolored depiction of asteroids in the Milky Way.

This picture exhibits the orbits of greater than 150,000 asteroids – from the interior elements of the Photo voltaic System to Trojan asteroids on the distance of Jupiter. The yellow circle within the heart represents the solar. Blue represents the inside of the photo voltaic system, the place there are asteroids near Earth and transiting Mars and the terrestrial planets. The primary belt between Mars and Jupiter is inexperienced. Jupiter pink trojans.

P. Tanga (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur)

“We won’t look forward to the astronomy group to delve into our new information to find extra about our galaxy and its environment than we ever imagined,” Prostie mentioned.

As for Gaia’s subsequent steps, the workforce intends to proceed the trouble in what’s going to finally be the top of information for our dwelling galaxy, the Milky Means.

A depiction of our location in the Milky Way.

This picture exhibits an inventive impression of the Milky Means, above which an overlay exhibits the situation and density of a younger star pattern from the Gaia 3 information launch (in yellow-green). The signal “You’re right here” refers back to the solar.

ESA / Kevin Jardine, Stefan Payne-Wardenaar