Gaia in the UK

Taking the Galactic Census

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Virtual Milky Way

Gaia launch blog - Thu, 2016-11-10 10:57

ESA’s Gaia mission is surveying stars in our Galaxy and local galactic neighbourhood in order to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way and answer questions about its structure, origin and evolution.

Launched in 2013, Gaia has already generated its first catalogue of more than a billion stars – the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date.

To achieve its scientific aims, the spacecraft operates in an ultra-high-precision pointing mode, and to enable the flight control team to monitor spacecraft performance, Gaia regularly reports to the ground information about its current attitude and the stars that have been observed.

These engineering data have been accumulated over 18 months and combined to create a ‘map’ of the observed star densities, from which a beautiful and ghostly ‘virtual image’ of our magnificent Milky Way galaxy can be discerned, showing the attendant globular clusters and Magellanic clouds.

A ghostly image of our Milky Way galaxy derived from spacecraft orientation data Credit: ESA

The intensity scale of this map represents star density derived from the engineering data representing star density. Where there are more stars, as in the Galactic centre, the map is brighter; where there are fewer, the map is darker. The map includes brightness data corresponding to several million stars.

More information on Gaia operations

Editor’s note: On 21 November, at 16:00 CET, the Gaia mission team will host a live ‘Ask Me Anything’ chat. Details will be posted via ESA social media channels later.

Gaia: Follow the Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop live

Gaia news - Sat, 2016-10-29 00:34
On 2-4 November, the European Space Astronomy Centre near Madrid, Spain, will host the Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop. Many of the talks will be broadcast live.

Gaia: Gaia spies two temporarily magnified stars

Gaia news - Thu, 2016-10-27 22:49
While scanning the sky to measure the position of over one billion stars in our Galaxy, ESA's Gaia satellite has detected two rare instances of stars whose light was temporarily boosted by other celestial objects passing across their lines of sight. One of these stars is expected to brighten again soon. Gaia's measurements will be instrumental to learn more about the nature of these 'cosmic magnifying glasses'.

Gaia: From Hipparchus to Hipparcos: A sonification of stellar catalogues

Gaia news - Thu, 2016-09-22 23:45
ESA's Gaia mission recently released its first batch of data, based on observations obtained with the satellite during its first 14 months of science operations. This ambitious mission is the culmination of over two thousand years of astrometry – the science of charting the sky. A new sonification demonstrates in a novel way the remarkable progress that has been made in the lead up to the first data release from Gaia.

Gaia: Gaia's billion-star map hints at treasures to come

Gaia news - Wed, 2016-09-14 11:05
The first catalogue of more than a billion stars from ESA's Gaia satellite was published today – the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date.

A taster of Gaia’s sky

Gaia mission news - Wed, 2016-09-14 11:00

Media briefing replay: Gaia scientists present stellar catalogues obtained during the first year of ESA’s star surveyor

Gaia’s first sky map

Gaia mission news - Wed, 2016-09-14 10:30

ESA’s Gaia mission has published its first catalogue of a billion stars

Gaia’s billion-star map hints at treasures to come

Gaia mission news - Wed, 2016-09-14 10:30

The first catalogue of more than a billion stars from ESA’s Gaia satellite was published today – the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date.

Star mapper

Gaia mission news - Mon, 2016-09-12 13:40

Explore the sky with this new visualisation using data from ESA’s Hipparcos mission

First Gaia Data Release

Gaia mission news - Mon, 2016-09-12 12:00

Gaia’s first star catalogue will be unveiled on Wednesday, 14 September. Watch livestream from 09:30 GMT / 11:30 CEST

Watch Gaia first data release media briefing

Gaia mission news - Mon, 2016-09-12 08:30

Livestreaming of the media briefing on the first data release from ESA’s Gaia mission will begin on 14 September at 09:30 GMT (11:30 CEST).

Gaia: Call for media: First data release from ESA's Gaia mission

Gaia news - Thu, 2016-09-01 23:19
Media representatives are invited to a briefing on the first data release of ESA's Gaia mission, an astrometry mission to map the stars of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Call for media: First data release from ESA's Gaia mission

Gaia mission news - Thu, 2016-09-01 11:30

Media representatives are invited to a briefing on the first data release of ESA’s Gaia mission, an astrometry mission to map the stars of our galaxy, the Milky Way. 

Gaia: A Very Human Venture: Personal Perspectives on Gaia's Data Processing and Analysis Consortium

Gaia news - Thu, 2016-08-25 12:10
Since its launch in December 2013 Gaia has been sweeping the skies mapping around one billion stars. The data collected will allow astronomers to probe the very nature of the astronomical objects observed by the spacecraft. But before the data can be useful to the scientific community they must pass through a complex and robust processing pipeline. This is the story of how that pipeline was created and how it has struggled and thrived by virtue of being a truly human endeavour.

Gaia: Gaia's second anniversary marked by successes and challenges

Gaia news - Tue, 2016-08-16 22:52
Operating in the depths of space, far beyond the Moon's orbit, ESA's Gaia spacecraft has now completed two years of a planned five-year survey of the sky. Despite a series of unexpected technical challenges, the mission is on track to complete the most detailed and complex mapping of the heavens ever undertaken.

Gaia: Mark your calendar: Gaia data release set for 14 September

Gaia news - Tue, 2016-07-05 00:27
ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia, launched on 19 December 2013, and in routine science operations since 25 July 2014, will release the first mission data on 14 September 2016.

Gaia: Gaia science alerts are back

Gaia news - Tue, 2016-03-08 02:20
While scanning the sky to measure the position and velocity of a billion stars, ESA's Gaia satellite also records many 'guest stars' – astronomical sources that, for a short period of time, are much brighter than usual.

Gaia: Counting stars with Gaia

Gaia news - Sat, 2016-02-13 23:41
This image, based on housekeeping data from ESA's Gaia satellite, is no ordinary depiction of the heavens. While the image portrays the outline of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, and of its neighbouring Magellanic Clouds, it was obtained in a rather unusual way.

Gaia: Gaia's first year of scientific observations

Gaia news - Wed, 2016-02-10 14:43
Last Friday, 21 August, ESA's billion-star surveyor, Gaia, completed its first year of science observations in its main survey mode.

Gaia: Gaia discovers its first supernova

Gaia news - Thu, 2016-02-04 17:09
While scanning the sky to measure the positions and movements of stars in our Galaxy, Gaia has discovered its first stellar explosion in another galaxy far, far away.

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