Tag Archives: Gaia spacecraft

Watch: The Milky Way as You’ve Never Seen It Before

In April 2018, the European Space Agency’s Gaia observatory released its second data catalog, which includes the distances to over 1.3 billion stars. In the video published by the American Museum of Natural History, museum’s astrophysicist Jackie Faherty breaks down why this information is so revolutionary and explains how this information is helping scientists and non-scientists alike understand the universe like never before.

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ESA’s Gaia has Created the Most Detailed Map of the Milky Way

ESA’s (European Space Agency) Gaia spacecraft has created the most accurate and detailed map of the Milky Way galaxy (and beyond) to date. The map includes high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and reveals previously unseen details of our home Galaxy. It is the second iteration of the map and published by ESA on April 25, 2018.

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Now We Know When Stars Will Be Passing Close to the Sun

About 70,000 years ago, a wandering binary stellar system passed through the Solar System’s Oort cloudNotes 1, within 120,000 AU (0.58 pc; 1.9 ly) of the Sun. 70,000 years is just a blink of an eye compared to the Earth’s age, which is 4.543 billion years. Our ancestors were about to left Africa at that time. The binary system is dubbed as Scholz’s StarNotes 2, after its discoverer. Comets perturbed from the Oort cloud would require roughly 2 million years to get to the inner Solar System. So, in the distant future, some of these comets may hit the Earth and cause mass extinctions, like the “dinosaur killer” Chicxulub impactor which impacted a few miles from the present-day town of Chicxulub in Mexico around 66 million years ago.

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