Gaia Mission Reveals Stars Rushing through The Milky Way

Milky Way

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia mission is now proving to be a provider of interesting and fascinating information. The ambitious project was launched by ESA in the year 2013 to shed light on some stars present in our home galaxy.

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The new research also suggests that Gaia may have collected data about a few foreign invaders.  

New research suggests it might have also picked up a few foreign invaders originating outside of the Milky Way.

Since its launch, the Gaia mission has successfully offered amazing data about the positions and motions of 1.7 billion stars. And on Tuesday, ESA announced that the astronomers, who had been researching on the second data collected by Gaia in April, discovered hypervelocity stars rushing into the Milky Way instead of flying away from it.

Gaia gathers the data is through a process called astrometry. Its basic aim is to track the sky repeatedly and to observe its every targeted star 70 times on an average over the course of its five-year mission.

The stars in the Milky Way move at hundreds of kilometers/second. The consensus has remained to be that the rapidly moving stars or the hypervelocity stars originate right from the center of the Milky Way, before being kicked out. As these stars travel at such high speed, it is being said that they can escape the galaxy’s gravitational pull.

As per the new research, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers at the Netherland’s Leiden Observatory found 20 such high-velocity stars of which only seven stars with 3D velocity measurements seemed to be traveling away from the Milky Way.  

According to Tommaso Marchetti, these stars could be from another galaxy, flying right into the Milky Way

Out of all the stars studied in the new research, a star named Gaia DR2 1396963577886583296, traveling with a velocity of more than 700 kilometers/second, is the one which has the highest chances of racing into the Milky Way from another galaxy.

The team of astronomers speculates that such stars might have entered the Milky Way from a neighboring galaxy, like the Large Magellanic Cloud.

However, the research indeed makes a note of the fact that the remaining 13 hypervelocity stars have a probability from the galactic disk of the Milky Way instead of stating that rapidly moving stars are traveling via our neighborhood. But for now, as the astronomers continue to analyze and study the gathered information, they are offering many interesting facts about the behaviors of the stars in the Milky Way.

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