The first catalogue of more than a billion stars from ESA’s Gaia satellite was published – the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date. On its way to assembling the most detailed 3D map ever made of our Milky Way galaxy, Gaia has pinned down the precise position on the sky and the brightness of 1142 million stars. As a taster of the richer catalogue to come in the near future, the release also features the distances and the motions across the sky for more than two million stars.
“Gaia is at the forefront of astrometry, charting the sky at precisions that have never been achieved before,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science. “The release gives us a first impression of the extraordinary data that await us and that will revolutionise our understanding of how stars are distributed and move across our Galaxy.”
Launched 1000 days ago, Gaia started its scientific work in July 2014. This first release is based on data collected during its first 14 months of scanning the sky, up to September 2015.
“The beautiful map we are publishing shows the density of stars measured by Gaia across the entire sky, and confirms that it collected superb data during its first year of operations,” says Timo Prusti, Gaia project scientist at ESA.