Images credit & copyright: ESA/Gaia/DPAC.
This week, Wednesday, September 14 the European Space Agency (ESA) released the first series of data from their Gaia spacecraft in its ambitious plan to create a 3Dmap of more than a billion stars. This release, which includes data from the first 14 months of collection (up until September2015), has recorded the precise brightness and position of 1 billion, 142 million stars to include 3,194 variable stars.
This first round of data, as beautiful as it is, will be upstaged in coming years as more data continues to come in and as that data begins to construct the 3D map.
ESA Science Gaia main site: http://sci.esa.int/gaia/
ESA Science page for this non-annotated image: http://sci.esa.int/gaia/58209-gaia-s-first-sky-map/
ESA Science page for this annotated image: http://sci.esa.int/gaia/58281-gaia-s-first-sky-map-annotated/