The European Space Agency has released the world’s most exhaustive star catalog, pinpointing the positions of nearly 1.7 billion stars.
Today’s release, based on 22 months’ worth of data from ESA’s Gaia sky-mapping satellite, follows up on an initial version of the catalog that was released in 2016. This second release adds readings from the period between September 2015 and May 2016.
The Gaia mission’s second data release was presented at the ILA Berlin Air and Space Show in Germany. In addition to the positional data, the new catalog lists parallax and velocity readings for 1.3 billion stars — making it easy for astronomers to plot their distances and motions with respect to Earth.
“The observations collected by Gaia are redefining the foundations of astronomy,” Günther Hasinger, ESA’s director of science, said in a news release.
Astronomy fans agreed, and gushed over the treasure trove on Twitter.