European Space Agency maps Milky Way

New information from ESA's Gaia space telescope have allowed scientists to map the galaxy as never before

Astronomers from the European Space Agency have released the most detailed 3D star map of the Milky Way ever, using data collected by the Gaia space telescope.

The map includes 1.7 billion stars, an impressive figure but still less than 2% of the estimated 100 billion stars that make up the Milky Way, as well as new information that could help scientists solve some cosmic mysteries.

The data for the map came from the ESA's Gaia satellite, which was launched in 2013, with the intent of mapping the Milky Way. The latest map has been created after the release of the satellite's second data set.

The first data set, which was released two years ago, mapped two million stars. A third is planned for 2020, and the last at the end of Gaia’s mission sometime in the 2020s.

Closer to Earth, Gaia has also pinned down the movements of about 14,000, allowing astronomers to better trace their formation histories and predict their future locations.

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