Image credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC.
Launched on December 19, 2013, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia spacecraft has been hard at work observing, measuring and cataloging everything that it can and to say that its delivered would be an understatement. This mind blowing image is actually Gaia’s second data release and it covers collection dates between July 25, 2014 to May 23, 2016 and it has nailed down the exact positions of 1.7 billion stars, 1.3 billion of those have also had their proper motion (basically their motion) recorded as well. In addition to stars, Gaia had cataloged precise positions of 14,000 known asteroids in the solar system to better monitor them. Roughly half a million quasars and half a million variable stars have also been cataloged. As amazing as this release is, it’s important to remember that this is still just the beginning of what this fantastic ESA mission will accomplish.
ESA Gaia mission page: http://sci.esa.int/gaia/
Cosmos ESA Gaia page: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/home
ESA Gaia page for this image: http://sci.esa.int/gaia/60192-gaia-creates-richest-star-map-of-our-galaxy-and-beyond/