“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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”