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Gaia satellite charts a billion stars in Milky Way

Milky Way
This image shows stars in the Milky Way, plus neighboring galaxies. (Credit: ESA / Gaia / DPAC)

The team behind the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite has released its first catalog of more than a billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, but that’s just the start.

Eventually, the readings from Gaia’s all-sky survey of celestial objects will be assembled into the most detailed 3-D map ever made of our home galaxy.

“Gaia is at the forefront of astrometry, charting the sky at precisions that have never been achieved before,” Alvaro Gimenez, ESA’s director of science, said in an announcement accompanying the Sept. 14 data release.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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