The latest star map from the Gaia spacecraft plots 1.7 billion stars | Science News

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The latest star map from the Gaia spacecraft plots 1.7 billion stars

Measurements also include half a million quasars and 14,099 known solar system objects

By
3:45pm, April 25, 2018
all-sky map of the Milky Way

YOU ARE HERE  The most precise all-sky map of the Milky Way  was released by the Gaia space telescope team on April 25. It shows the total brightness and color of nearly 1.7 billion stars and a few neighboring galaxies (bright spots to the lower right of the main disk).

Using the precise position and brightness of almost 1.7 billion stars, the Gaia spacecraft has created the most precise 3-D map of the Milky Way yet.

On April 25, the European Space Agency’s Gaia team released the spacecraft’s second batch of data, gathered from July 2014 to May 2016, used to create the map. The tally includes measurements of half a million quasars — the active black holes at the centers of distant galaxies — and 14,099 known solar system objects (mostly asteroids), observations of other nearby galaxies and the amount of dust in between Earth and 87 million stars (SN: 4/14/18, p. 27).

The spacecraft also measures the distances and motions of stars by taking advantage of Earth’s motion around the sun, a technique called parallax. As Earth moves, stars appear to trace

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