Technology Space: the Gaïa satellite unveils the most precise mapping of the Milky Way ever produced

Space: the Gaïa satellite unveils the most precise mapping of the Milky Way ever produced

This 3D map of our galaxy was made from the new catalog published by the European telescope. Launched into orbit nearly ten years ago, it records the position of stars that are sometimes billions of years old and their chemical composition.

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It is the most complete and precise cartography of our galaxy which was revealed, Monday June 13 in the morning, by the European Space Agency: a map resulting from several years of observation of the Gaïa satellite, deployed in the space since 2013. On this three-dimensional map of the Milky Way, nearly two billion stars have been listed, inventoried, with a precision never before achieved in terms of their relative position, their displacement, their age.

It took several years for scientists to process the data recorded by Gaia from its observation post located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. The satellite also made it possible for the first time to study the chemical composition of these millions of stars, explains Alexandra Recio-Blanco, astronomer at the Côte d’Azur observatory: “Looking at the chemical composition of stars, which is a bit like their DNA, we can deduce that there are stars as old as the galaxy that tell us about the most primitive times. They are survivors of 13 billion ‘years of age. And then we also have witnesses to the recent history of the galaxy that are a few hundred million years old.”

The European satellite also enriches the catalog of knowledge on other celestial objects in our galaxy such as asteroids, all markers of the history of the Milky Way. And it’s not over, the satellite will continue to collect data until 2025.

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