A new catalog of stars containing precise measurements of more than a billion of them

With the data collected by the Gaia space observatory, astronomers have created the richest catalog of stars to date, containing precise measurements of nearly 1.3 billion of them and revealing previously unseen details of our Galaxy. It is the most precise map of the Milky Way ever produced.

The long-awaited catalog of stars is the result of the Gaia probe’s work, która has been in orbit since late 2013. The new data include the positions, distance ratios and motions, brightness and colors of more than a billion stars, as well as precise measurements of asteroids in our solar system and stars and other objectóin beyond our own Galaxy.

Preliminary analysis of these data reveals the finest details of theós about the stellar population of the Milky Way and how stars move. This is essential information for studying the formation and evolution of our Galaxy.

– The observations collected by the Gaia probe redefine the fundamentals of astronomy – said Günther Hasinger, ESA science director. – Gaia is an ambitious mission, która is based on human wspólaborations to make sense of such a large amount of highly complex data. Shows the need for a long-term projectóin guaranteeing advances in space science and technological progress. It also creates hope for even more daring scientific missions in the coming decades – added.

The first catalog based on observations by the Gaia probe was published in 2016. This was the result of the first 14 months of the probe’s work. Although it involved more than a billion stars, the detailedóThe data was only for twoóch millionów of them. The current version includes detailedólated data of 1.3 billion stars, but it gives positions for 1.7 billionów of them. Gaia provides róalso astrophysical data, such as temperature or spectral type of the star. It looks at the róAlso the celestial bodies thatóre they are dangerously close to our planet, the so-called “Earth’s” so called. NEO (Near-Earth asteroids) – That is, Asteroids close to Earth. It is expected to improve humanity’s chances of defending itself against asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

– The second publication of Gaia data represents a huge step forwardód in reference to ESA’s Hipparcos mission, Gaia’s predecessor and the first space mission designed to measure theów astrometric, whichóra almost thirty years ago studied about 118,000 stars – said Anthony Brown of Leiden University in the Netherlands, który coordinates the work of 450 scientistsów and engineeróin software involved in creating the catalog from satellite data.

– The sheer number of stars, with their positions and movements, makes the new catalog quite astonishing. But this catalog is more. It contains many other types ofóin the data, m.in. information about the properties of stars and other objectsóin the heavens, making this version truly unique – explained Brown.

The catalog published today is based on 22 months of observations. However, the data is too much and is still being analyzed. The third version of the catalog is planned for 2020, and the final version is expected to be published in the mid-2020s. The current catalog was long awaited by scientistsóin, whichóers expect to make many discoveries with it.

Large parts of our Galaxy are obscured by gas and dust and it is difficult to see the structure from the perspective of the Solar System. As the satellite tracks the movement of stars, astronomers can turn back the clock and see how the galaxy has evolved over the past 13 billionóin years. This new field of research known as galactic archaeology.

With the color and brightness information, astronomers can classify stars by composition and identify stellar nurseries in which theórych are born ródifferent types of stars. The new data set includes róAlso information on 14,000. asteroids. This is a small fraction of the approximately 750,000. known smaller bodies, but Gaia provides orbital information 100 times more accurate than previously. It may helpóc identify asteroid families and shed light on the past of our planetary system.

The information gathered by the Gaia probe will help róalso in assessing the distribution of mass in the Milky Way, or determining the rate of expansion of the Universe. Researchers plan to harness r to analyze this dataóalso artificial intelligence algorithms.

– It’s like waiting for Christmas. I believe there will be an explosion of scientific work. I myself plan to stay awake for a week or two – joked Vasily Belokurov of the University of Cambridge.

At the Consortium for Data Processing and Analysis, które converts telemetry data into information useful for scientistsów, I work róalso specialists from Poland. „The contribution of the Polish side to the project is primarily the work of dr. hab. Lukasz Wyrzykowski from the Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory involved in the search for supernovae and lensing black holes, and Dr. Arkadiusz Hypki, who creates tools for data analysis, and Dr. Toni Santana-Ross from the University of. A. Mickiewicz University conducting research on asteroids” – reads the pages of the journal Urania.

Gaia’s mission was originally planned for five years, or until mid-2019. However, ESA has approved an extension of the mission until the end of 2020. It is still to be confirmed at the end of this year. Data from the first, as well as the second edition of the catalog can be viewed in the ESA archive. DetailsóThe contents of the second edition of the róis also available on the ESA website.