Tomorrow the European Space Agency will be publishing what is to date the largest 3D map ever created of the Milky Way galaxy thanks to the very unique and special Gaia space telescope.
As the Gaia space telescope has been in operation since 2013, it has had quite a lot of time to scan the Milky Way, and the upcoming map will include a whopping 1.7 billion stars on it, according to Gizmodo.
As Uwe Lammers, who is in charge of science operations for the Gaia, revealed, the new DR2 map created by the European Space Agency is the most exhaustive star map of the Milky Way ever released, and one that will astonish stargazers everywhere.
“It will be the most precise and complete stellar catalog ever produced.”
When the first star map of Gaia was officially launched in 2016, it contained figures relating to the brightness and location of 1.1 billion stars, which was an incredible feat at the time. But now with two extra years of data to collect which include 25 observations of these stars, it will be pushing up the amount of stars mapped considerably.
Another exciting thing about the new star map will be the enormous distance it will now cover, stretching from 500 to 8,000 light years away.
— Scientific American (@sciam) April 24, 2018
The new star map will also include precise information pertaining to velocities, stellar parallax, and the temperatures of the stars. As astronomer Emily Rice explained, a map of this kind with such a wealth of information is a rarity today.
“Gaia is an unprecedented map of the Milky Way galaxy, fundamental astrophysics at its finest, laying the groundwork for decades of research on everything from the Solar System to the origin and evolution of the Universe. It is at once foundational and transformative, which is rare in modern astronomy.”
The European Space Agency map will also have detailed data on it pertaining to 14,099 asteroids within the Milky Way as well as the radial velocities of roughly 7 million stars, as Scientific American reports.
Learning more about stellar motions could prove a very useful tool when it comes to studying dark matter, and could even help with research revolving around different theories of gravity, according to astrophysicist Amina Helmi.
If you are interested in viewing the new Gaia 3D star map from the European Space Agency, it will be presented after a media briefing on Wednesday at 9:00 GMT.