In new map of the Milky Way, Gaia mission reveals ‘stellar earthquakes’

In new map of the Milky Way, Gaia mission reveals ‘stellar earthquakes’

In new map of the Milky Way, Gaia mission reveals ‘stellar earthquakes’

The phenomenon seen in thousands of stars involves the motion of each star’s surface. (Photo: ESA/Gaia/DPAC)

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia mission has released the third batch of data from the project, which aims to create the most complete map of the Milky Way. One of the highlights of the reveal was the detection of “quakes” in thousands of stars in our galaxy.

These phenomena are characterized by tiny movements on the surface of each star and can change the shape of the star. “‘Starquakes’ teach us a lot about stars, especially their inner workings. Gaia is opening up gold mines for ‘asteroseismology’ of massive stars,” ESA mission member Connie Eitz said in a statement. commented in a statement.

While spaceflight wasn’t designed to detect these “quakes,” it found vibrations even in previously rarely seen stars. The latest theories suggest that these stars shouldn’t be shaking, but detections have found the opposite.

The Gaia mission has captured details of nearly 2 billion stars on the largest 3D moving map of the galaxy. This includes information about chemical composition, temperature, color, mass, age, and even the speed at which the star approaches or recedes from Earth (radial velocity).

Astronomers on the mission also detected the largest catalog of binary stars ever found, as well as special subsets of stars, such as those that change in brightness over time. Data can also be acquired from thousands of objects in the solar system, such as asteroids, moons, and millions of galaxies and quasars beyond the Milky Way.

Some stars detected by Gaia contain more heavy metals than others. While some are primordial, there are also stars like the Sun that are made up of material rich in previous generations of stars.

“Our Milky Way is a beautiful melting pot of stars,” compares Alejandra Recio-Blanco from the French Observatory on the Côte d’Azur. For the experts working with the Gaia team, this diversity is important because it tells the story of our galaxy.

Much of the information from the Gaia space observatory comes from newly released spectroscopic data, a technique for breaking down starlight into its constituent colors, like a rainbow.

“By searching the entire sky with billions of stars over and over again, Gaia is forced to make discoveries that other, more focused missions would miss,” said ESA Gaia project scientist Timo Prusti. “That’s one of its strengths, and we can’t wait for the astronomical community to dig into our new data to discover more about our galaxy and its surroundings than we thought.”