You can’t just drive acar around the Milky Way to diagram it. It’s fortunate, then, that new information gathered by the European Space Agency’s Gaia observatory offers the most detailed map yet of the galaxy. The project’s map now includes almost 2 billion stars, and it helps the agency trace the Milky Way’s history.
“The new Gaia data promise to be a treasure trove for astronomers,” Jos de Bruijne, ESA’s Gaia deputy project scientist, said in a statement.
The new information not only brings the total number of stars mapped over seven years up to close to 2 billion, but it includes “a detailed census of more than 300,000 stars in our cosmic neighborhood,” meaning stars within 326 light-years of the sun. That 300,000 number is believed to be 92% of