From Universe Today: “Gaia Looks Beyond our Galaxy to Other Islands of Stars”

universe-today

Universe Today

15 Dec, 2017
Matt Williams

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Color view of Messier 31 (The Andromeda Galaxy), with Messier 32 (a satellite galaxy) shown to the lower left. Credit and copyright: Terry Hancock.

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Gaia’s view of the Andromeda galaxy. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia mission is an ambitious project.

ESA/GAIA satellite

Having launched in December of 2013, the purpose of this space observatory has been to measure the position and distances of 1 billion objects – including stars, extra-solar planets, comets, asteroids and even quasars. From this, astronomers hope to create the most detailed 3D space catalog of the cosmos ever made.

Back in 2016, the first batch of Gaia data (based on its first 14 months in space) was released. Since then, scientists have been pouring over the raw data to obtain clearer images of the neighboring stars and galaxies that were studied by the mission. The latest images to be released, based on Gaia data, included revealing pictures of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the Andromeda galaxy, and the Triangulum galaxy.

The first catalog of Gaia data consisted of information on 1.142 billion stars, including their precise position in the night sky and their respective brightness. Most of these stars are located in the Milky Way, but a good fraction were from galaxies beyond ours, which included about ten million belonging to the LMC. This satellite galaxy, located about 166 000 light-years away, has about 1/100th the mass of the Milky Way.

See the full article here .

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