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ESA Gaia Spacecraft

Flyaway

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Astronomers at Harvard University have discovered a monolithic, wave-shaped gaseous structure—the largest ever seen in our galaxy—made up of interconnected stellar nurseries. Dubbed the "Radcliffe wave" in honor of the collaboration's home base, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the discovery transforms a 150-year-old vision of nearby stellar nurseries as an expanding ring into one featuring an undulating, star-forming filament that reaches trillions of miles above and below the galactic disk.

The work, published in Nature on 7 January, was enabled by a new analysis of data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft, launched in 2013 with the mission of precisely measuring the position, distance, and motion of the stars. The research team combined the super-accurate data from Gaia with other measurements to construct a detailed, 3-D map of interstellar matter in the Milky Way, and noticed an unexpected pattern in the spiral arm closest to the Earth.

"We don't know what causes this shape but it could be like a ripple in a pond, as if something extraordinarily massive landed in our galaxy," said Alves. "What we do know is that our Sun interacts with this structure. It passed by a festival of supernovae as it crossed Orion 13 million years ago, and in another 13 million years it will cross the structure again, sort of like we are 'surfing the wave'."


Here’s the related paper:

 

Flyaway

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Flyaway

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Gaia revolutionises asteroid tracking

01/07/2020

ESA’s Gaia space observatory is an ambitious mission to construct a three-dimensional map of our galaxy by making high-precision measurements of over one billion stars. However, on its journey to map distant suns, Gaia is revolutionising a field much closer to home. By accurately mapping the stars, it is helping researchers track down lost asteroids.

 
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