Gaia probe reveals stellar DNA and starquakes

Astronomers have released the most detailed study of the Milky Way, revealing thousands of “starquakes” and stellar DNA that help pinpoint the habitable corner of the galaxy. Observations by the European Space Agency’s Gaia probe, covering nearly 2 billion stars — about 1 percent of all stars in the Milky Way — have allowed astronomers to reconstruct the structure of our galaxy, understanding its presence in billions of stars. How the year has evolved. Previous surveys by the spacecraft Gaia, launched in 2013, pinpointed the motions of stars in galaxies. By reviewing these motions, astronomers can simulate how galaxies have changed over time. The latest observations add detailed information on the chemical composition, temperature, color, mass and age of stars based on broad-spectrum analysis, in which starlight is split into different wavelengths. Unexpectedly, these measurements revealed thousands of starquakes — catastrophic tsunami-like events — on the star’s surface. “Starquakes reveal a lot about stars—especially their inner workings,” said Conny Aerts of KU Leuven, Belgium, a member of the Gaia Collaboration. “Gaia is opening a gold mine for asteroseismology of massive stars. Dr George Seabroke, Senior Research Fellow at UCL’s Melardy Space Science Laboratory, said: “If you could see the brightness of these stars changing on the way through the Milky Way, if you could be anywhere near them, like the Sun Change shape right in front of your eyes.” Gaia is equipped with a 1-gigapixel camera — the largest space camera ever built — with more than 100 electron detectors. The latest dataset is the largest chemical map of the Milky Way to date, cataloging 6 million stars, ten times the number covered by previous ground-based cataloging.

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