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SPACE

Milky Way Map!

September 22nd, 2016
Gaia's first sky map. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC. Acknowledgement: A. Moitinho & M. Barros (CENTRA – University of Lisbon), on behalf of DPAC.

Gaia’s first sky map. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC. Acknowledgement: A. Moitinho & M. Barros (CENTRA – University of Lisbon), on behalf of DPAC.

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced last week that it has mapped 1 billion stars in a section of the Milky Way that includes our Sun. One BILLION!

And, it turns out that along the way, they discovered 400 million more stars than they originally knew about before!

After all that, it’s still considered to be about only 1 percent of what the Milky Way Galaxy contains! And that’s just our galaxy. There’s an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, according to ESA. Mind. Blown.

They sent an unmanned spacecraft named Gaia up into orbit around the Earth, and with a team of scientists from 24 countries, they were able to share the data from their findings so far. Gaia has two telescopes but they didn’t take pictures or video, rather measurements were made over and over again. Once those measurements were transmitted back to Earth, scientists were able to make their Milky Way map. Gaia’s mission is to create the most accurate map of the Galaxy there is.

There’s so much information, including not just stars but also possible planets, asteroids and other celestial objects, that they made their data pubic so that other scientists could analyze it too and perhaps make some discoveries of their own.

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