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The European Gaia telescope makes a 3D map of the entire galaxy

The European Gaia telescope makes a 3D map of the entire galaxy

The European Space Agency’s Gaia observatory works to get an overview of our entire galaxy, not just one object, such as the Hubble Space Telescope or the James Webb Space Telescope, which look in detail at specific targets, whether they are nebulae, stars or entire galaxies.

The idea is to use Gaia to create a 3D map of the Milky Way, including information about the stars within it as well as other objects such as asteroids, planets and moons.

european telescope gaia mission

The Gaia telescope is looking at the location and movements of about 2 billion stars to create a model of the galaxy as it exists now, as well as to understand how the galaxy originated and evolved. 2014.

The usefulness of the data provided by Gaia

The data provided by Gaia helped to learn the messy history of the Milky Way which helped find some galaxies close to us, and created the most detailed star catalog for our galaxy to date.

In 2022 researchers behind Gaia released the third set of data they had collected over his lifetime, including information about star formations and unexpected findings about a phenomenon called star earthquakes.

Using spectroscopy to identify a star’s DNA:

Gaia collects data about the formation of distant stars using a technique called spectroscopy, with its instrument called a radial velocity spectrometer. In this way, sensors on the spacecraft can detect absent wavelengths of light, as these correspond to certain elements that absorb light at certain wavelengths, and for this reason, you can tell what a distant star is made of by looking at the light it emits through Gaia.

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metallic stars

This allowed Gaia to create a color representation of the stars in the Milky Way, which shows the percentage of heavy elements each star contains. Higher metallicity, because old stars consist of simpler elements such as hydrogen and helium, and create heavier elements through nuclear fusion, and when these stars die, they release these heavier elements, which later become newer and younger stars.

So by looking at regions with stars with higher or lower metallic content, researchers can see how our galaxy has evolved over time. Therefore, the chemical composition of a star is somewhat similar to its DNA, which gives us important information about its origin.

Source: Slash Gear