ESA's Gaia Satellite Maps Over 1 Billion Stars

Posted on September 14, 2016

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released the first sky map created by the Gaia satellite. The images were obtained by Gaia from July 2014 to September 2015. It is the most detailed 3D map ever made of our Milky Way galaxy. It contains 1.142 billion stars.

The map shows the density of stars observed by Gaia in each portion of the sky. Brighter regions indicate denser concentrations of stars and darker regions correspond to regions where fewer stars have been observed.

Alvaro Giménez, ESA's Director of Science, says in the announcement, "Gaia is at the forefront of astrometry, charting the sky at precisions that have never been achieved before. Today's release 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."

High resolution versions of the Gaia sky map can be downloaded here. This video provides a visualisation of how Gaia scanned the sky during its first 14 months of operations, between July 2014 and September 2015.

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