How do you comb through data for one billion stars!?!
We now have a more complete star map of the Milky Way, which still only represents 1% of the stars in our galaxy.
Vocabulary: satellite, sky map, orbit, star
Last week, the European Space Agency (ESA) released the most complete sky map to date. Collected by the Gaia satellite, ESA has since released this data to the public. Rachel Feltman, editor of The Washington Post’s Speaking of Science blog, discusses the details.
Questions for Students
- What is the goal of the European Space Agency (ESA) Gaia Satellite?
- According to ESA, the Gaia satellite has collected data on one-billion stars. This represents about one percent of the stars in the Milky Way. How many stars are in the Milky Way? Create an analogy to help people visualize that extremely large number.
- So far ESA has processed data for two-million of those one-billion stars. What are the potential benefits from opening this massive data collection to other researchers and the public?
- Rachel Feltman talked with Ira about the release of the Gaia space telescope data. Read about the program in this article, then have a gander at the Gaia Archive from the European Space Agency. It is helpful to watch ESA’s Gaia media briefing, where researchers explain the possible avenues of research with this new data. You can also follow the Gaia satellite blog, where new discoveries are highlighted.
- It is possible to use Gaia’s data to identify planets using the “wobble method”. Look at this article about different techniques used to determine the possible presence of planets, like the 1,027 exoplanets announced earlier this year.