The largest all-sky survey of celestial objects ever made by humans was released this month, using data from The European Space Agency (ESA)'s Gaia satellite.
The survey captures more than a billion stars, and will become part of the most detailed 3D map ever made of our Milky Way galaxy.
“Gaia has pinned down the precise position on the sky and the brightness of 1142 million stars,” ESA reports. The star catalogue also documents details of the distances and motions across the sky for over two million stars.
“Gaia is at the forefront of astrometry, charting the sky at precisions that have never been achieved before,” said Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science. “[This] gives us a first impression of the extraordinary data that await us and that will revolutionise our understanding of how stars are distributed and move across our Galaxy.”
Artist's impression of Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way [ESA]
Gaia started its scientific work in July of 2014. This is the first big data release from the project, representing data gathered during the first 14 months, through September 2015.
From the New York Times:
Most of the Milky Way’s stars reside in the so-called Galactic Plane, shown here as a bright horizontal strip about 100,000 light-years across and about 1,000 light-years deep. (...) As extensive as these measurements are, Gaia will catalog just 1 percent of the stars found in the Milky Way by the time its mission ends.
You can follow GAIA's mission on Facebook.
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