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New Gaia data release tracks distance and motion of 1.8 billion stars

The European Space Agency (ESA) today released the third round of data from its Gaia satellite, designed to measure precisely the distance and motion of billions of nearby stars.

Gaia EDR3 contains detailed information on more than 1.8 billion sources, detected by the Gaia spacecraft. This represents an increase of more than 100 million sources over the previous data release (Gaia DR2), which was made public in April 2018. Gaia EDR3 also contains colour information for around 1.5 billion sources, an increase of about 200 million sources over Gaia DR2. As well as including more sources, the general accuracy and precision of the measurements has also improved.

This release also included the following discoveries:

  • The Milky Way’s outer regions beyond the Sun contain two populations of stars, one slowly dropping towards the galaxy’s plane, the second flying away quickly.
  • The first precise measure of the solar system’s orbit in the Milky Way
  • A more complete census of all stars within 100 parsecs of the Sun
  • A better map of the interaction between the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Milky Way, which also showed that the cloud does have a spiral structure

This precise data will take decades to digest, as past research has been based on only rough distance and motion estimates. Having precise data will change our approximation of each object’s brightness, which will also change much of what we assume about it.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • LocalFluff

    The third data release will surely be dug into by those who hunt exoplanets. Of course only a fraction of stars have planetary discs aligned with our line of sight. And a small fraction of them happen to have been repeatedly transiting each time Gaia briefly but repeatedly looked at them. But a billion multiplied by one-in-a-million is still many. Gaia might swamp Kepler in terms of number of exoplanets discovered during next year.

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