Strange tsunami-like earthquakes shake some stars in our galaxy, Gaia spacecraft reveals

Among the many new discoveries made by Gaia are the unusual stellar earthquakes, a mission launched in 2013 to create an “accurate and complete multidimensional map of the Milky Way.” On Monday, the European Space Agency released the third set of data from the spacecraft, revealing new details about the nearly two billion stars in our galaxy.

Connie Aerts, a professor at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Leuven in Belgium and a member of the GIA Collaboration, a group of 400 researchers working on data from the project, told ESA News release.

The agency described the stellar vibrations observed by Gaia as “large-scale tsunamis” that changed the shape of stars. Gaia was not originally designed to detect the phenomenon but was able to discern strong motion on a surface Thousands of stars, including some places where stellar earthquakes have rarely been seen before.

Previously, Gaia detected radial oscillations – divergent motions from a common point – that caused some stars to periodically swell and contract while maintaining their spherical shape. The newly discovered oscillations were non-radial.

Gaia is uniquely located approximately 930,000 miles from Earth in the direction opposite to the Sun. The spacecraft carries two telescopes that can survey our galaxy from a location called Lagrange Point 2 or L2. At this point, the spacecraft is able to stay in a fixed location due to the balance of gravitational forces between the Earth and the Sun.

This also means that the spacecraft has no interference from Earth’s light, and can use minimal fuel to stay stationary. The vantage point allows Gaia to have unrestricted views and constantly survey our galaxy.

“Using this amazing database, we can build a comprehensive picture of the Milky Way and delve into its amazing history of formation, seeing first-hand evidence of past violent interactions with other galaxies, and inner swarms of intense star formation along[the Milky Way]spiral arms,” said Nicholas. Walton, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy and a member of the ESA Gaia Collaboration, said in a statement.

Much of the latest information about the Milky Way has been revealed by spectroscopic data from Gaia, which resulted from a technique in which starlight is split into its component colors, like a rainbow.

The data collected by Gaia includes new information about Chemical composition, temperatures, mass and age of stars, as well as The speed at which they move toward or away from the Earth. Detailed information has also been released about more than 150,000 asteroids in our solar system and space dust – what lies between the stars.

Data from Gaia reveals the speed at which more than 30 million Milky Way stars are moving toward or away from Earth.  Blue shows the parts of the sky where the average movement of the stars is towards us while red shows the areas where the average movement is farthest from us.

George Seabrook, senior researcher at Mullard Space Science Laboratory at University College London, in a statement issued by the Royal Astronomical Society.

“The more stars we know their chemistry for, the better we can understand our galaxy as a whole. Gaia’s chemical catalog of six million stars is ten times larger than previous Earth’s catalogs, so this is really revolutionary. Gaia data releases tell us where the stars are. and how they move. Now we also know what many of these stars are made of,” Seabrook said.

About 50 scientific papers based on Gaia data will be published on Monday; Some will appear in a special issue of the Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“Unlike other missions that target specific objects, Gaia is a survey mission,” said Timo Prosti, ESA’s Gaia project scientist.

“This means that while scanning the entire sky with billions of stars many times, Gaia is bound to make discoveries that other more specialized missions will not miss,” Prostie said. “This is one of its strengths, and we can’t wait for the astronomy community to dive into our new data to discover more about our galaxy and its surroundings than we ever imagined.”

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