The Milky Way had been described since it was first viewed as a barred spiral galaxy whose diameter varies between 150,000 and 200,000 light-years. Astronomers believe, after extended researches, to contain between 100 and 400 billion stars and above 100 billion planets. The Milky Way can also be seen from Earth only at night as a dusky belt of white light that forms an arched contour across the sky. ESA’s Gaia mission is now working on mapping the entire Milky Way galaxy.
Updates for the Milky Way map are expected to be released in the years to come. A few years ago, the European Space Agency succeeded in mapping the Milky Way. The map was created by Gaia, an ESA’s space observatory whose sole purpose in space is to calculate the place, distances and movements of stars with remarkable precision and then catalog the stars in a 3D space map. In 2018, ESA released a second update of the Milky Way map. The update was a step forward in the future mapping of the universe as Gaia accomplished to collect a substantial quantity of data about our galaxy.
ESA’s Gaia To Update The Map Of Milky Way Galaxy
Astronomers got together data obtained by Gaia with data from other sky-scanning instruments and accomplished to see beyond areas which were covered by space dust and could analyze the position of the stars that were once hard to measure. The researchers also published a paper on this matter. Friedrich Anders is one of the primary authors of the paper. He stated that they “looked in particular at two of the stellar parameters contained in the Gaia data: the surface temperature of stars and the ‘extinction,’ which is basically a measure of how much dust there is between us and the stars.”
The dust covers the light emanated by the stars and would make them seem reddish rather than white. By using infrared, they can further observe the stars that hide behind the cosmic dust. This new method of star observation creates a better accuracy of the measurement by 20%. ESA’s Gaia is expected to come with new updates in the years to come for the Milky Way galaxy map.