Looking at 1.7 billion stars


Click to enlargeESA/Gaia/DPAC

❝ Nearly 1.7 billion stars have been plotted in unprecedented detail with the highly anticipated release of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft.

The $1 billion (750 million euros) Gaia spacecraft launched in 2013 for a five-year mission to map the night sky with unmatched accuracy. The spacecraft is perched far beyond the moon’s orbit, in the Lagrange-2, or L2, point, a gravitationally stable spot about 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth. Unlike space telescopes such as Hubble that orbit the Earth, Gaia can scan the cosmos without Earth blocking a large chunk of its view. As it rotates in space, Gaia measures about 100,000 stars each minute and covers the whole sky in about two months. Each star is measured 70 times on average. The new 3D map, which was unveiled here at the ILA Berlin Air Show, offers the best-ever look at the Milky Way — now in color — and promises to unleash hundreds of scientific discoveries about our galactic home and beyond…

The link above isn’t for the smaller 3D map. There is a link to that in the article. But, the link up top takes you to a 58+mb hi-res star map that opens to 8000×4000 pixels on two-clicks.

❝ The $1 billion Gaia spacecraft launched in 2013 for a five-year mission to map the night sky with unmatched accuracy. The spacecraft is perched far beyond the moon’s orbit, in the Lagrange-2, or L2, point, a gravitationally stable spot about 1 million miles away from Earth. Unlike space telescopes such as Hubble that orbit the Earth, Gaia can scan the cosmos without Earth blocking a large chunk of its view. As it rotates in space, Gaia measures about 100,000 stars each minute and covers the whole sky in about two months. Each star is measured 70 times on average.

Wow! Folks alive in that most-likely-distant future with faster-than-light travel going to have some fabulous vacations.

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