Scientists said yesterday (February 22, 2021) that they’ve now created a 3D plot of more than a million pairs of binary stars, that is, double stars, orbiting a common center of gravity. Astronomer Kareem El-Badry of UC Berkeley created the new plot, which wildly improves upon previous data that revealed just 200 double-star pairs. The project was made possible, of course, by the European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory, which is engaged in a multi-year process to create a 3D map of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. In the process, Gaia has revealed many mind-boggling insights. Watch a fly-through of Gaia’s 3D plot of binary stars in the video above.
The video, created with Gaia data and animation by Jackie Faherty of the American Museum of Natural History, begins with a distant view of the Milky Way and then flies through a 6,000-light-year-diameter cloud of more than 1 million binary stars, before reaching Earth and switching to a view into the future as pairs of binary stars move through space.
El-Badry’s results were published February 9, 2021, in the peer-reviewed journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
This composite image shows just a small sample of the many ...