Gaia in the UK

Taking the Galactic Census

Gaia’s chemical map of the Milky Way

DR3 Milky Way metallicity map

What stars are made of can tell us about their birthplace and their journey afterwards, and therefore about the history of the Milky Way. With today’s data release, Gaia is bringing us a chemical map of the galaxy.

With Gaia, we see that some stars in our galaxy are made of primordial material, while others like our Sun are made of matter enriched by previous generations of stars. Stars that are closer to the centre and plane of our galaxy are richer in metals than stars at larger distances.

This all-sky view shows a sample of the Milky Way stars in Gaia’s data release 3. The colour indicates the stellar metallicity. Redder stars are richer in metals.

Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Page last updated: 04 April 2023