Gaia reveals the center of the Milky Way galaxy Today’s Video of the Day from the European Space Agency shows the galactic bar at the center of the Milky Way galaxy like we have never seen it before.
The second release of data from the Gaia star-mapping satellite has provided scientists with the first direct measurement of the bar-shaped collection of stars.
“We know the Milky Way has a bar, like other barred spiral galaxies, but so far we only had indirect indications from the motions of stars and gas, or from star counts in infrared surveys. This is the first time that we see the galactic bar in three-dimensional space, based on geometric measurements of stellar distances,” said Gaia astrophysicist Friedrich Anders. As viewed from Earth, the visible region of the Milky Way’s galactic plane occupies an area of the sky that includes 30 constellations The Galactic Center lies in the direction of Sagittarius, where the Milky Way is brightest. From Sagittarius, the hazy band of white light appears to pass around to the galactic anticenter in Auriga.
Gaia reveals the center of the Milky Way galaxy The band then continues the rest of the way around the sky, back to Sagittarius, dividing the sky into two roughly equal hemispheres.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer
Video Credit: European Space Agency