Our galaxy is beautiful and it has never been seen before like the latest maps from Gaia, a satellite observatory from the European Space Agency (ESA).
The satellite had a mission to chart the vast Milky Way galaxy and create a 3-D map. It has done so successfully with detailed information on more than 1.8 billion sources. The official website called it a “treasure trove for astronomers.”
It looked at the galaxy’s “anticentre” which is the opposite direction of its centre. This way, the project tried to peek into the galaxy’s past. The observations and data from Gaia spacecraft were analysed by Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) astronomers.
They released a total of four “Demonstration Papers” related to this data and their theories about the galaxy.
The latest data is actually the third instalment of the project which will wrap by 2022. Though Early Data Release 3 (EDR3) is still quite phenomenal and useful for astronomers to understand the workings of the galaxy.
A data point collected by Gaia studies the motion of stars in this galaxy. It predicted their stellar motion for the next 1.6 million years. They have managed to create an animated video based on this data.
According to the official report, the animation shows that growing tails show how the stars would change positions in the next 80,000 years. Shorter tails were indicative of slower movement across the sky while longer tails evidenced faster motion.
One of the factors observed by Gaia was the density information.
As seen in the official image released by the ESA, the bright regions indicated denser star concentration whereas dark region were patches of sky with more scattered star placements.
They also released a colourful map for a clearer view of the observation. The most massive stars appear the brightest in this rendition. They managed to achieve this effect by combining two things: the total amount of light recorded by Gaia in each patch of the sky and their colour (red and blue).
They also observed through computer models that as new stars will be born, the disc of the Milky Way will grow larger. As of now, this current data shows relics of almost 10 billion-year-old ancient disc.