Starquakes! Gaia spacecraft sees unusual stars in most detailed Milky Manner survey but

One of many startling findings from Gaia’s model 3 knowledge is that Gaia is ready to detect starquakes – tiny actions on a star’s floor – that change the form of stars, for which the he observatory was not initially designed. Credit score: ESA/Gaia/DPAC, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Gaia is a European House Company (ESA) mission to create an correct three-dimensional map of over a billion stars throughout our[{” attribute=””>Milky Way galaxy and beyond. Although it launched all the way back in 2013, it is still working to accurately map the the motions, luminosity, temperature and composition of the stars in our galaxy.

Along the way it has made numerous discoveries, such as detecting a shake in the Milky Way, the observation of almost 500 explosions in galaxy cores, crystallization in white dwarfs, and discovering a billion-year-old river of stars. It also revealed the total weight of the Milky Way, a direct measurement of the galactic bar in the Milky Way, mysterious fossil spiral arms in the Milky Way, and a new member of the Milky Way family.

Today marks the data of the third data release from Gaia. The first data release was on September 14, 2016, followed by the second data release on April 25, 2018. On December 3, 2020, they did an early third data release with detailed data on more than 1.8 billion stars. All this data is helping to reveal the origin, structure, and evolutionary history of our galaxy.

Gaia: Exploring the Multi-Dimensional Milky Way

This image shows four sky maps made with the new ESA Gaia data released on June 13, 2022. Credit: © ESA/Gaia/DPAC; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Today (June 13, 2022), ESA’s Gaia mission releases its new treasure trove of data about our home galaxy. Astronomers describe strange ‘starquakes’, stellar DNA, asymmetric motions, and other fascinating insights in this most detailed Milky Way survey to date.

Gaia is ESA’s mission to create the most accurate and complete multi-dimensional map of the Milky Way. This allows astronomers to reconstruct our home galaxy’s structure and past evolution over billions of years, and to better understand the lifecycle of stars and our place in the Universe.

What’s new in model 3 knowledge?

Gaia Knowledge Model 3 comprises new and improved element for practically two billion stars in our galaxy. The catalog consists of new data, together with chemical compositions, stellar temperatures, colours, lots, ages, and how briskly stars are approaching or shifting away from us (radial velocity). A lot of this data has been revealed by not too long ago printed knowledge from spectroscopy, a method by which starlight is break up into its constituent colours (like a rainbow). The info additionally consists of particular subsets of stars, similar to those who change brightness over time.

Additionally new to this dataset are the most important catalog of binary stars thus far, hundreds of photo voltaic system objects similar to asteroids and moons of planets, and tens of millions of galaxies and quasars exterior the Milky Manner.


One of the vital startling discoveries from the brand new knowledge is that Gaia is ready to detect starquakes – tiny actions on a star’s floor – that change the form of stars, one thing the observatory does for n was not initially designed.

Beforehand, Gaia had discovered radial oscillations that trigger stars to periodically swell and shrink, whereas retaining their spherical form. However Gaia has additionally noticed different vibrations which might be extra like large-scale tsunamis. These non-radial oscillations change the general form of a star and are subsequently harder to detect.

Gaia has discovered highly effective non-radial starquakes in hundreds of stars. Gaia has additionally revealed such vibrations in stars which have not often been seen earlier than. These stars shouldn’t have quakes in line with the present principle, whereas Gaia detected them on their floor.

“Starquakes teaches us lots about stars, together with their interior workings. Gaia opens up a gold mine for the ‘asteroseismology’ of huge stars,” says Conny Aerts from KU Leuven in Belgium, a member of the Gaia collaboration.

The DNA of stars

The composition of stars can inform us about their birthplace and subsequent journey, and thus concerning the historical past of the Milky Manner. With as we speak’s knowledge launch, Gaia reveals the most important chemical map of the galaxy coupled with 3D motions, from our photo voltaic neighborhood to smaller galaxies surrounding our personal.

Some stars comprise extra “heavy metals” than others. Through the[{” attribute=””>Big Bang, only light elements were formed (hydrogen and helium). All other heavier elements – called metals by astronomers – are built inside stars. When stars die, they release these metals into the gas and dust between the stars called the interstellar medium, out of which new stars form. Active star formation and death will lead to an environment that is richer in metals. Therefore, a star’s chemical composition is a bit like its DNA, giving us crucial information about its origin.

You Are Here Milky Way

This image shows an artistic impression of the Milky Way, and on top of that an overlay showing the location and densities of a young star sample from Gaia’s data release 3 (in yellow-green). The “you are here” sign points towards the Sun. Credit: © ESA/Gaia/DPAC; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

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 center and plane of our galaxy are richer in metals than stars at larger distances. Gaia also identified stars that originally came from different galaxies than our own, based on their chemical composition.

“Our galaxy is a beautiful melting pot of stars,” says Alejandra Recio-Blanco of the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in France, who is a member of the Gaia collaboration.

“This diversity is extremely important, because it tells us the story of our galaxy’s formation. It reveals the processes of migration within our galaxy and accretion from external galaxies. It also clearly shows that our Sun, and we, all belong to an ever-changing system, formed thanks to the assembly of stars and gas of different origins.”

Asteroids in Gaia Data Release 3

This image shows the orbits of the more than 150,000 asteroids in Gaia’s data release 3, from the inner parts of the Solar System to the Trojan asteroids at the distance of Jupiter, with different color codes. The yellow circle at the center represents the Sun. Blue represents the inner part of the Solar System, where the Near Earth Asteroids, Mars crossers, and terrestrial planets are. The Main Belt, between Mars and Jupiter, is green. Jupiter trojans are red. Credit: © ESA/Gaia/DPAC; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, Acknowledgements: P. Tanga (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur)

Binary stars, asteroids, quasars, and more

Other papers that are published today reflect the breadth and depth of Gaia’s discovery potential. A new binary star catalog presents the mass and evolution of more than 800 thousand binary systems, while a new asteroid survey comprising 156 thousand rocky bodies is digging deeper into the origin of our Solar System. Gaia is also revealing information about 10 million variable stars, mysterious macro-molecules between stars, as well as quasars and galaxies beyond our own cosmic neighborhood.

Asteroids June 2022 With Gaia

The position of each asteroid at 12:00 CEST on June 13, 2022, is plotted. Each asteroid is a segment representing its motion over 10 days. Inner bodies move faster around the Sun (yellow circle at the center). Blue represents the inner part of the Solar System, where the Near Earth Asteroids, Mars crossers, and terrestrial planets are. The Main Belt, between Mars and Jupiter, is green. The two orange ‘clouds’ correspond to the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter. Credit: © ESA/Gaia/DPAC; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, Acknowledgements: P. Tanga (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur)

“Unlike other missions that target specific objects, Gaia is a survey mission. This means that while surveying the entire sky with billions of stars multiple times, Gaia is bound to make discoveries that other more dedicated missions would miss. This is one of its strengths, and we can’t wait for the astronomy community to dive into our new data to find out even more about our galaxy and its surroundings than we could’ve imagined,” says Timo Prusti, Project Scientist for Gaia at ESA.

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