View larger. | Image via ESA.
ESA announced this morning (December 3, 2020) that its Early Data Release 3 from the great Gaia space observatory is now public. This space observatory – which focuses on astrometry, the measurements of the positions of stars over time – is giving us a 3D map of our Milky Way galaxy.
Imagine that: we’ll know how billions of stars in our galaxy are moving, in real time.
Here are some results from Gaia’s 2nd data release. This ia an all-sky map showing how about a billion stars are moving toward or away from our sun. It was made possible because Gaia’s measures precise locations of these stars, over and over again. When you look at this map, you’re seeing a large-scale pattern caused by rotation of our Milky Way galaxy. Image via DPAC/ESA/STFC.
ESA said this data release:
…contains detailed information on more than 1.8 billion sources, as measured by the Gaia spacecraft. This represents an increase of more than 100 million sources over the previous data release (Gaia DR2), which was made public in April 2018.
Of course, it’s not the increase in numbers of stars that’s so amazing. It’s ...