|7 Sep 2017||The Gaia Revolution
Gaia is a European Space Agency mission is to reveal the composition, formation and evolution of our Milky Way Galaxy. The whole mission cost around 1 billion Euros, the Gaia satellite (launched in 2013) has the largest CCD camera in space with nearly 1 billion pixels and it is observing over 1 billion stars (1% of the Galaxy's population).
The revolution began with Gaia’s first data release (DR1) in 2016, which included the positions of over 1 billion stars, allowing the most detailed map ever of the night sky to be made. The revolution will continue with Gaia’s second data release (DR2, April 2018). DR2 will improve this map and extend it to 3D by publishing the parallaxes of these 1 billion stars, from which their distances can be inferred. It will be possible to turn this 3D map into a movie because DR2 will also include how stars move with time (proper motions and radial velocities).
Not only will Gaia revolutionise most of astrophysics because distances are so fundamental to the subject, it will also discover thousands of supernovae, tens of thousands of new planetary systems around other stars, monitor hundreds of millions of variable stars, study 500,000 quasars across the Universe, measure how space-time is warped by the gravitational fields of the Sun and major planets and provide our first census of asteroids in the inner Solar System!
I will present the scientific motivation for Gaia, the satellite itself and its measurement principles, the human side of Gaia, the contents of DR1 and highlights of its scientific results, the promise of DR2, MSSL’s contribution to the mission, how anyone can get involved with the mission now (Gaia Alerts) and the future of the mission.
See George's presentation here [PDF: 15.3Mb, Members only].