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Space & Astronomy

ESA reveals most detailed Milky Way map ever

By T.K. Randall
September 15, 2016 · Comment icon 20 comments

The Milky Way appears to be much larger than previously thought. Image Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC
The European Space Agency has unveiled a map of our galaxy charting the positions of 1.1 billion stars.
The breathtaking and highly detailed 3D map was produced using data from ESA's Gaia space observatory which has been scanning the heavens since its launch back in 2013.

Equipped with a 1 billion-pixel camera capable of measuring the diameter of a single human hair from over 1,000km away, the spacecraft is able to map the galaxy in more detail than ever before.

The new map includes 400 million stars that were previously unknown to science and nearly 20 times as many stars as the previous map created using ESA's Hipparcos satellite in the 1990s.
"The beautiful map we are publishing today shows the density of stars measured by Gaia across the entire sky, and confirms that it collected superb data during its first year of operations," said Gaia project scientist Timo Prusti.

"Although the current data are preliminary, we wanted to make them available for the astronomical community to use as soon as possible."

A high-resolution version of the new galactic map can be downloaded - here.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (20)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by White Unicorn 8 years ago
This was  a perfect thread to post how to experience the awe of the Cosmos feelings!  Thank you  ChrLzs, most people need to try it and you said how to do it so very well. I'm surprised how many have never tried sky gazing that way, it is an immense feeling that must be experienced. 
Comment icon #12 Posted by David Thomson 8 years ago
The amazing thing about this article isn't the picture of the Milky Way. It is the camera that was used. It can see a hair on the surface of the Earth from space! If they have this camera looking at stars, you can bet they also have them looking at us!
Comment icon #13 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 8 years ago
When my wife and I were in Arizona earlier this year, I had her pull over so I could see the stars.  It lasted about 30 seconds before she got freaked out at the deep darkness, the stillness of the desert, and the utter silence.  So I missed out on my chance.  I won't miss the next one. Here in my part of Indiana, one can get a "nice" view of the Milky Way (nice as in as best as I can get), but it's still polluted by nearby Indy and Noblesville and some of the other small towns around the area.  At least I have a switch on my dusk to dawn light so I can shut if off and gets things as dark ... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
A "New Map to the Stars"  now available at Hollywood and Vine. I whole heartedly agree with toast.  We can't be alone.  
Comment icon #15 Posted by psyche101 8 years ago
Well then, in my opinion they failed Looks very pretty to be, beautiful, breathtaking stunning. Particularly noticeable in the HD image Chrlz linked to Thanks Chrlz Using that as a wallpaper now !
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
Good point, but in my defence I didn't say it wasn't pretty, just that it wasn't made to be pretty. For me the beauty isn't in the aesthetics of the map, it is in the fact that human beings can build a device that can accurately map more than a billion stars.
Comment icon #17 Posted by psyche101 8 years ago
I would have to concur   I will have to meet you halfway and call both stunning   Indeed, what an achievement! 
Comment icon #18 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
Comment icon #19 Posted by Pjjr 8 years ago
This is pretty cool! If you have an iphone/pod everyone should check out a free app called Exoplanet.It has a pretty detailed map of the Milky Way, and has new feeds showing new planet discoveries in our galaxy.
Comment icon #20 Posted by quiXilver 8 years ago
freaking awesome!

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