New house map reveals celestial treasure trove of mysterious “starquakes”

The Gaia house probe on Monday unveiled its newest discoveries in its quest to map the Milky Method in unprecedented element, surveying practically two million stars and revealing mysterious “starquakes” which sweep throughout the fiery giants like huge tsunamis.

The mission’s third information set, which was launched to eagerly ready astronomers around the globe at 1000 GMT, “revolutionizes our understanding of the galaxy,” the European House Company (ESA) stated.

ESA Director-Basic Josef Aschbacher advised a press convention that it was “a incredible day for astronomy” as a result of the info “will open the floodgates for brand new science, for brand new findings of our universe, of our Milky Method.”

Gaia information launch 3: exploring our multi-dimensional Milky Method by
European House Company, ESA on

A number of the map’s new insights got here near dwelling, similar to a listing of greater than 156,000 asteroids in our Photo voltaic System “whose orbits the instrument has calculated with incomparable precision,” Francois Mignard, a member of the Gaia staff, advised AFP.

However Gaia additionally sees past the Milky Method, recognizing 2.9 million different galaxies in addition to 1.9 million quasars — the stunningly vivid hearts of galaxies powered by supermassive black holes.

The Gaia spacecraft is nestled in a strategically positioned orbit 937,000 miles from Earth, the place it has been watching the skies because it was launched by the ESA in 2013.

The remark of starquakes, large vibrations that change the form of the distant stars, was “one of the stunning discoveries popping out of the brand new information,” the ESA stated.

Europe Space Star Map
This map exhibits the interstellar mud that fills the Milky Method. 


Gaia was not constructed to watch starquakes however nonetheless detected the unusual phenomenon on 1000’s of stars, together with some that shouldn’t have any — a minimum of in accordance with our present understanding of the universe.

“Starquakes educate us so much about stars, notably their inner workings. Gaia is opening a goldmine for ‘asteroseismology’ of large stars,” stated Gaia staff member Conny Aerts.

Gaia has surveyed greater than 1.8 billion stars however that solely represents round one p.c of the celebrities within the Milky Method, which is about 100,000 gentle years throughout.

The probe is provided with two telescopes in addition to a billion-pixel digicam, which captures photos sharp sufficient to gauge the diameter of a single strand of human hair 620 miles away.

The brand new information contains new info such because the age, mass, temperature and chemical composition of stars. This can be utilized, for instance, to find out which stars have been born in one other galaxy after which migrated to the Milky Method.

The extremely exact information “permits us to look greater than 10 billion years into the previous historical past of our personal Milky Method,” stated Anthony Brown, the chair of the Knowledge Processing and Evaluation Consortium which sifted by way of the huge quantity of knowledge.

The outcomes from Gaia are already “far past what we anticipated” at this level, Mignard stated.

They present that our galaxy shouldn’t be shifting easily by way of the universe as had been thought however is as a substitute “turbulent” and “stressed,” he stated.

“It has had quite a lot of accidents in its life and nonetheless has them” because it interacts with different galaxies, he added. “Maybe it would by no means be in a stationary state.”

“Our galaxy is certainly a residing entity, the place objects are born, the place they die,” Aerts stated.

“The encompassing galaxies are constantly interacting with our galaxy and generally additionally falling inside it”.

Round 50 scientific papers have been revealed alongside the brand new information, with many extra anticipated within the coming years.

Gaia’s observations have fueled 1000’s of research since its first dataset was launched in 2016.

The second dataset in 2018 allowed astronomers to indicate that the Milky Method merged with one other galaxy in a violent collision round 10 billion years in the past.

It took the staff 5 years to ship the most recent information, which was noticed from 2014 to 2017.

The ultimate dataset will likely be launched in 2030, after Gaia finishes its mission surveying the skies in 2025.

Monday’s launch confirmed solely two new exoplanets — and 200 different potential candidates — however way more are anticipated sooner or later.

“In precept Gaia, particularly when it goes on for the total 10 years, needs to be able to detecting tens of 1000’s of exoplanets all the way down to Jupiter’s mass,” Brown stated.

Europe Space Star Map
This all-sky view supplied by European House Company on Monday, June 13, 2022 exhibits a pattern of the Milky Method stars in Gaia’s information launch 3. The colour signifies the stellar metallicity. Redder stars are richer in metals. 


The Gaia information now being launched additionally contains info on 800,000 binaries – stars that transfer in tandem with one another – in addition to a number of new exoplanets, a whole bunch of 1000’s of asteroids within the photo voltaic system and tens of millions of objects past our galaxy.  

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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