ESA’s Gaia publishes a new treasure trove of data on the Milky Way

Gaia is ESA’s mission to create the most accurate and complete multidimensional map of the Milky Way. He recently released a new treasure trove of data on the Milky Way, describing strange “earthquakes,” stellar DNA, asymmetric movements, and other fascinating insights.

Gaia Data Release 3 includes new and updated details of some two billion stars in our galaxy. Chemical compositions, stellar temperatures, colors, masses, ages, and the speed with which stars travel toward or away from us are included in the catalog (radial velocity). Recently published spectroscopic data provided much of this information. It also has particular subsets of stars, such as those that change brightness over time.

This image shows four maps of the sky made with the new ESA Gaia data published on June 13, 2022. © ESA / Gaia / DPAC; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

This dataset contains the most complete list of binary stars, asteroids, and planets in the Solar System, as well as millions of galaxies and quasars outside the Milky Way.


Gaia’s ability to identify earthquakes is one of the most striking findings in the new data. A stellar earthquake is vaguely similar to an earthquake that changes the shape of stars. These earthquakes reveal more about the inner workings of the star.

In thousands of stars, Gaia discovered intense non-radial earthquakes. It also revealed unusual vibrations in stars that had never been observed before. According to current theory, these stars should have no earthquakes; however, Gaia detected them on its surface.

The DNA of the stars

The composition of the stars can explain their birthplace and later journey, hence the history of the Milky Way. With today’s release of data, Gaia is revealing the largest chemical map of the galaxy coupled with 3D motion, from our solar district to the smaller galaxies around us.

Some stars are made of heavier metals. After death, these stars release these metals into the gas and dust between the stars, called the interstellar medium, from which new stars form. The formation of active stars and death create an environment enriched with metals. Therefore, the chemical composition of a star is similar to its DNA, which provides us with crucial information about its origin.

Gaia also revealed stars with primordial material. Metals are more abundant in the stars closest to the center and in the plane of the galaxy than in the farthest stars. From its chemical composition, Gaia was able to identify stars that originated in galaxies other than our own.

Alejandra Recio-Blanco of the Côte d’Azur Observatory in France, a member of the Gaia collaboration, said: “Our galaxy is a beautiful crucible of stars. This diversity is extremely important because it tells us the story. of the formation of our galaxy Reveals the processes of migration within our galaxy and the growth of outer galaxies It also shows that our Sun and all of us belong to a constantly changing system, formed by the coupling of stars and gases of different origins “.

Binary stars, asteroids, quasars and more

A new catalog of binary stars details the mass and history of more than 800,000 binary systems, while a new study of asteroids of 156,000 rocky bodies reveals more about the origins of our Solar System. Gaia also discovers about 10 million variable stars, enigmatic macromolecules between stars, and quasars and galaxies beyond our cosmic neighborhood.

This image shows the orbits of the more than 150,000 asteroids in Gaia’s data publication 3, from the inner parts of the Solar System to the Trojan asteroids at a distance from Jupiter, with different color codes. The yellow circle in the center represents the Sun. Blue represents the inner part of the Solar System, where the asteroids close to Earth, the crosses of Mars and the terrestrial planets are located. The main belt, between Mars and Jupiter, is green. Jupiter’s Trojans are red. Acknowledgments: P. Tanga (Côte d’Azur Observatory) © ESA / Gaia / DPAC; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Timo Prusti, a Gaia project scientist at ESA, said: “Unlike other missions that target specific objects, Gaia is a fact-finding mission. This means that Gaia is required to make discoveries that other more dedicated missions would be lost as it examines the entire sky with billions of stars several times.This is one of its strengths, and we can’t wait for the astronomy community to dive into our new data to find out more about our galaxy and its environment than we could have imagined. “

Gaia’s data publication 3 was presented during a briefing on virtual media in

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