Gaia in the UK

Taking the Galactic Census

Milky Way in motion

The asymmetric Milky Way in motion

ESA’s Gaia data release 3 shows us the speed at which more than 30 million Milky Way stars move towards or away from us. This is called ‘radial velocity’ and it is providing the third velocity dimension in the Gaia map of our galaxy. We can now see how the stars move over a large portion of the Milky Way’s disc.

Thanks to Gaia, we can clearly see that the stars on average do not rotate with circular motions around the centre of the galaxy. This is because our Milky Way is not symmetric around its axis. It is a ‘barred’ spiral galaxy, and the motions reveal the orientation of the central bar.

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


Page last updated: 13 June 2022