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European ‘star survey’ reveals celestial treasure trove

European ‘star survey’ reveals celestial treasure trove

BERLIN – (AP) – The European Space Agency has published a data mine on nearly 2 billion stars in the Milky Way, collected by its GAIA mission to create the most precise and complete card of our galaxy.

Astronomers hope to use data to understand better how the stars are born and die and how the Milky Way has evolved over billions of years.

New data includes information such as the stars’ age, mass, temperature, and chemical composition. This can be used, for example, to determine which stars were born in another galaxy, then migrated to the Milky Way.

Gaia has also been able to detect more than 100,000 so-called Startquakes, which ESA compared to large tsunamis which have repercussions on the stars. According to astrophysicist Conny Aerts, these allow scientists to deduce density, internal rotation, and temperature inside the stars.

Although it has not collected information on approximately 1% of Milky Way stars, the mission provides the basis for around 1,600 scientific publications annually.

The Timo Prustti project scientist said the number of stars observed makes scientists more likely to make very rare discoveries.

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“You have to observe many objects to get the needle in the hay boot,” he said.

The ESA chief, Josef Aschbacher, said that having more data also allows astronomers to understand some of the forces involved in the galaxy, such as our solar system being thrown inside of the Milky Way.

“This allows things that would never be possible without this large number of data,” he said.

GAIA data in the publication process also includes information on 800,000 binary – stars that move in tandem with each other – as well as several new exoplanets, hundreds of thousands of asteroids in the solar system, and millions of millions ‘Objects beyond our galaxy.

Source: Washington Post

European ‘star survey’ reveals celestial treasure trove

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