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New Space Map Reveals Celestial Treasure Trove of “Starquakes”

The Gaia satellite probe revealed its newest findings on Monday as part of its mission to map the Milky Way in unprecedented detail, examining over two million stars and detecting unexplained “Starquakes” that sweep across the blazing giants like gigantic tsunamis. The third data collection from the project, which was given at 1000 GMT to eagerly awaiting scientists across the world, “revolutionises our view of the galaxy,” according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

It was “a magnificent day for astronomy,” ESA Director-General Josef Aschbacher said at a news conference, since the data “will open the floodgates for new science, for new discoveries of our cosmos, of our Milky Way.”

Some of the map’s new discoveries were close to home, such as a database of over 156,000 asteroids in our Solar System “whose orbits the sensor has estimated with remarkable precision,” according to Francois Mignard, a Gaia team member. Gaia, on the other hand, looks beyond the Milky Way, detecting 2.9 million additional galaxies and 1.9 million quasars — galaxies’ incredibly luminous centres driven by supermassive black holes.

Since its launch by the European Space Agency in 2013, the Gaia spacecraft has been tucked in a strategically positioned orbit 937,000 miles from Earth, where it has been studying the sky. “One of the most astonishing discoveries coming out of the new data” was the detection of Starquakes, huge vibrations that affect the form of faraway stars, according to the ESA.

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