Strange tsunami-like earthquakes are shaking some of the stars in our galaxy, according to the Gaia spacecraft.

Unusual starquakes are among the many new discoveries made by Gaia, a mission launched in 2013 to create “the most accurate and complete multi-dimensional map of the Milky Way”. The ESA on Monday released the third batch of data from the spacecraft, revealing fresh details about the nearly 2 billion stars in our galaxy.

“Starquakes teach us a lot about stars, especially their inner workings. Gaia opens up a goldmine for the ‘asteroseismology’ of massive stars,” said Conny Aerts, professor at the Institute of Astronomy at KU Leuven in Belgium and a member of Gaia. collaboration, a group of 400 researchers who work on project data, in ESA news release.

The agency described the stellar vibrations detected by Gaia as “large scale tsunamis“, which changed the shape of the stars. Gaia was not originally designed to detect this phenomenon, but was able to discern strong movement on the surface thousands of stars, including those where starquakes were rarely observed before.

Previously, Gaia detected radial oscillations – movements that radiate away from a common point – that caused some stars to periodically grow and shrink while maintaining their spherical shape. The newly discovered oscillations were non-radial.

Gaia is uniquely located about 930,000 miles from Earth in the opposite direction of the Sun. The spacecraft has two telescopes that can scan our galaxy from a point called Lagrange Point 2, or L2. At this point, the spacecraft can remain in a stable location due to the balance of gravitational forces between the Earth and the Sun.

This also means that the spacecraft is not interfered with by ground light and can use the minimum amount of propellant to stay in a fixed position. The viewpoint allows Gaia to have an unobstructed view and constantly scan our galaxy.

“With this incredible database, we can build a comprehensive picture of the Milky Way and delve into its incredible formation history, seeing direct evidence of both turbulent past interactions with other galaxies and internal outbursts of intense star formation along the (Milky Way) spiral.” weapons,” said Nicholas Walton, a research fellow at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and a member of the ESA Gaia collaboration. in a statement.

Much of the latest information about the Milky Way has been revealed by recently published Gaia spectroscopy data, resulting from a method in which starlight is split into its component colors, like a rainbow.

The data collected by Gaia includes new information about chemical composition, temperature, mass and age of stars, as well as the speed at which they are approaching or receding from Earth. Details have also been released about the more than 150,000 asteroids in our solar system and the cosmic dust that lies between the stars.

The Gaia data shows the rate at which more than 30 million stars in the Milky Way are moving towards or away from Earth.  Blue shows parts of the sky where the average motion of stars is directed towards us, and red shows areas where the average motion of stars is directed away from us.

“Chemical mapping of Gaia is similar to DNA sequencing of the human genome,” said George Seabrook, senior researcher The Mullard Space Research Laboratory at University College London, the Royal Astronomical Society said in a statement.

“The more stars we know about the chemical composition, the better we can understand our galaxy as a whole. The chemical catalog of Gaia’s six million stars is ten times larger than previous ground-based catalogs, so this is truly revolutionary. us where the stars were located and how they move. Now we also know what many of these stars are made of.” Seabrook said.

About 50 scientific articles based on Gaia data will be published on Monday; some will appear in a special edition Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“Unlike other site-specific missions, Gaia is an exploratory mission,” said Timo Prusti, Gaia Project Scientist at ESA.

“This means that by surveying the entire sky with billions of stars multiple times, Gaia is sure to make discoveries that other more specialized missions would miss,” Prusty said. “That’s one of its strengths, and we can’t wait for the astronomical community to dive into our new data to learn more about our galaxy and its environs than we ever imagined.”

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