video 21-October-2017 21:34:18

The motion of two million stars

12 April 2017

This video shows the 2 057 050 stars from the TGAS sample, which was published as part of the first data release of ESA's Gaia mission(Gaia DR1) on 14 September 2016, with the addition of 24 320 bright stars from the Hipparcos Catalogue that are not included in Gaia's first data release. The stars are plotted in Galactic coordinates and using a rectangular projection: in this, the plane of the Milky Way stands out as the horizontal band with greater density of stars.

The video starts from the positions of stars as measured by Gaia between 2014 and 2015, and shows how these positions are expected to evolve in the future, based on the proper motions from TGAS. The frames in the video are separated by 750 years, and the overall sequence covers 5 million years. The stripes visible in the early frames reflect the way Gaia scans the sky and the preliminary nature of the first data release; these artefacts are gradually washed out in the video as stars move across the sky.

The shape of the Orion constellation can be spotted towards the right edge of the frame, just below the Galactic Plane, at the beginning of the video. As the sequence proceeds, the familiar shape of this constellation (and others) evolves into a new pattern. Two stellar clusters – groups of stars that were born together and consequently move together – can be seen towards the left edge of the frame: these are the alpha Persei (Per OB3) and Pleiades open clusters.

More details about the video here.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO License. Creative Commons License

Last Update: 04 September 2017

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