The Gaia space observatory has been observing the sky for ten years. Now the research team is presenting new data. The detection of "starquakes" succeeds.
The European Space Agency ESA has released more data on our home galaxy collected by the Gaia probe. There are new and improved details for nearly two billion stars in our galaxy, ESA said.
For almost ten years, the Gaia space observatory has been observing the sky and recording the positions of all celestial objects visible to the probe. Scientists come from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and from the Astronomical Computing Institute at the Center for Astronomy at the University of Heidelberg. The aim is to create a multidimensional map of the Milky Way that is as precise and complete as possible.
One of the most surprising discoveries is that Gaia can detect so-called starquakes, which change the shape of the stars, the ESA reported. These are "tiny movements on the surface of a star".
Gaia had previously recognized so-called radial oscillations. These cause stars to periodically swell and shrink while maintaining their spherical shape. Now, however, other vibrations have been discovered that "act more like large tsunamis," it said. They only change the "global shape" of a star and are therefore not so easy to recognize. "Starquakes teach us a lot about the stars, especially about their inner workings," said Conny Aerts from the Belgian University KU Leuven (Leuven), according to the ESA release.
The revised catalog also includes new information, including chemical compositions, stellar temperatures, colors, masses, ages, and the speed at which stars are moving toward or away from us (radial velocity), according to ESA. Much of this information has been revealed by the newly released spectroscopy data, "a technique in which starlight is separated into its individual colors (like a rainbow)." The data also included special subsets of stars, such as those that change brightness over time.