European satellite reveals most detailed map of Milky Way galaxy
By Cresswell McCoy | Sep 23, 2016 02:19 PM EDT
The Gaia satellite of the European Space Agency shared the most detailed 3D map of the Milky Way galaxy. The Gaia satellite has been circling beyond the earth's orbit snapping pictures of the Milky Way.
With the largest billion pixel camera in space, it is able to gauge the diameter of a human hair at the distance of 1,000 kilometers as per phys.org. The previous best map was plotted by ESA's Hipparcos satellite between 1989 and 1993. With it the data scientists will be able to position nearly 1.142 billion stars.
It has located a billion stars with only half way through its mission with still a long way to go. The data also allows scientists to estimate motions and distances for nearly 2 million stars, as described in the New York Post by astronomer Anthony Brown of Leiden University. He stated that it will let them "investigate our place in the universe, from our local neighborhood, the Solar System, to galactic and even grander, cosmological scales."
The one billion stars it has located is just one percent of the Milky Way's stellar population, our galaxy holds an estimated 100 billion stars. The Gaia satellite is yet to collect data about each star's luminosity, temperature and chemical composition in the future. The satellite was launched in December 2013 and has been circling the sun nearly a million miles and beyond the Earth's orbit ever since.
Mapping the position of the Milky Way's stars, it allows scientists to calculate the distance between the Earth and each star. This has resulted in a substantial undertaking and has never achieved anything so complete or precise before.
The Gaia has produced an image of the Milky Way and beyond, it can also plot the movement of the stars by scanning each star about 70 times. By opening a new chapter in astronomy it is certain to generate hundreds of scientific studies.
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