back to article Incredible Euro space agency data leak... just as planned: 1.7bn stars in our galaxy mapped

The European Space Agency (ESA) has emitted a huge dump of data from its Gaia mission to 3D map the Milky Way. Wednesday's mega-release, containing high precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars, dwarfs the first release of data in 2016, which pinned down the position of 1.14 billion stars and the distances and motion …

  1. pentiumofborg


    This is going to be a boon in the hunt for this mythical "Dark Matter". It doesn't exist of course.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge


      Let's not jump to conclusions already.

      Space is big. The Universe is complicated.

      Yes, there is a new theory about how to explain the matter discrepancy and yes, I have myself a lot of misgivings about a form of matter that does not interact with anything yet still exerts a gravitational effect - not to mention that I would dearly prefer our Universe to not expand endlessly because I like seeing other galaxies.

      But let's let the scientists hash it out before taking sides, shall we ?

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge


      As with all of physics it's a theory that tries to explain the observed.

    3. phuzz Silver badge


      The trouble with a theory that there's no such thing as dark matter (and I will admit that dark matter sounds like a bit of a fudge), is that it doesn't explain the existence of a galaxy which behaves as if it contains no dark matter.

      Of course, no one knows why this galaxy doesn't have any dark matter, but it certainly seems to behave as if all the mass in it is accounted for by the objects we can see. That is, the outermost clusters of stars orbit the core much slower than in other galaxies.

  2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

    Real science

    Real science == measure stuff

    1. 89724905708169238590784I93056703497430967093434677347864785234986359235564854495684561564545876

      Re: Real science

      "Real science == measure stuff"

      Measuring stuff is only one type of proof and there are a great many types of proof in maths.

      1. Kristaps
        IT Angle

        Re: Real science

        Yes, many types of proofs in maths, many of which well apply to a lot of branches of physics. But until you make an actual experiment, they are just abstract ideas. Sooner or later they have to be tied to some actual observation. If we go by what the scientific method is, math is hardly a science.

        P.S. I think mathematics are amazing. Hard to come up with a subject with more elegance in a higher level of abstraction. Something really rewarding about understanding some proofs.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Real science

      No. I call "science" things that tell us how the world works. That is not what Maths does. Maths tells us "if we assert x / y / z to be true, these things follow".

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Real science

        You need to read up on your history of quantum physics, and relativity, and quite a lot else.

        Because those whole areas only exist because the (quite ordinary, but difficult-to-solve) maths gave only one logical result - that "these things follow" (meaning things like relativity and quantum phenomena) was the result of the maths. Literally the equation that someone said "Well, that can't be right" but knew they'd done their maths properly... that turned out to have interpretations in physics hitherto unheard or dreamt of.

        It was only years later that anyone put a physics name to them, and the larger portion of a century before they were observed to be true.

        Sorry, but you can't poo-poo maths without destroying all of modern physics. And maths told you how the world worked, it just took 100 years for geniuses to actual understand what that meant and observe it.

  3. Ben1892

    Hold on, does that mean all the crunching I've been doing with Milkyway@home has been a waste :) Seriously though, Sloan Digital Sky Survey is kinda left behind by these new data

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SDSS is about galaxies, not stars AFAIK.

  4. Len Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Public access

    I was listening to a very excited science podcast last night where they were marvelling at the fact that all this data was made public to everyone and straight away. Usually the team that harvests this data first mines it to get the most juicy bits out and write a bunch of papers on it. Only then is it made wider available.

    With the Gaia data everyone from school class to astronomy research institute gets access to all the data straight away.

  5. Avatar of They


    "J u s t remember that your standing, on a planet thats evolving, and revolving at 900 miles an hour...."

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory

      More like 1035 miles an hour at the equator and some 6000 around the sun.

      As for maths I think some on this thread think about it more like arithmetic.

      Doing some copy past:

      Is there a difference between math and arithmetic?

      (1) the study of the relationships among numbers, shapes, and quantities, (2) it uses signs, symbols, and proofs and includes arithmetic, algebra, calculus, geometry, and trigonometry. The most obvious difference is that arithmetic is all about numbers and mathematics is all about theory.

  6. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    Second Star To The Right

    & straight on till morning.

    Bedtime see you in 7 hours.....

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


    Does this mean that my old but trusty Norton Star Atlas epoch 1950 is now out of date?: Where do I buy the Gaia atlas?

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Norton?

      Well, time to update your GPS again. ...what? Huh, really? The "G" doesn't stand for "Galactic"?!?

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Galactic Positioning System

        Uses Pulsars. Even works within the Solar System.

    2. Terje

      Re: Norton?

      The trusty Norton will never go out of style,still probably the handiest one to have when observing!

  8. Drunken


    I have been looking forward to Gaia's data. With this huge amount of data, astronomers will be able to test many different theories and gain a large amount of knowledge on galaxy formation and dynamics, dark matter, better measurements for hubble's constant and so much more.

    I wonder how many 100's or 1000's of papers Gaia will spawn?

    1. Len Silver badge

      Re: Exciting

      The science podcast I mentioned earlier speculated that there would be a whole bunch of skeleton papers that were already written that just needed this data to be slotted in to prove or disprove the hypothesis. That means we could expect the first papers based on this data to be out in weeks.

    2. Little Mouse

      Re: Exciting

      I'm just looking forward to the Best. Screensaver. Ever.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Exciting

        "Best. Screensaver. Ever."

        That's a pretty harsh criticism of Elite:Dangerous. Fair, but harsh.


        (Props to the E:D to always including up to date astronomical info whenever they can however)

      2. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Exciting

        Are you sure you have enough pixels.

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It is a good thing

    the GDPR doesn't cover Vogons, Poghrils, Haggunenons, Dentrassis, etc, so no privacy rules are broken.

    More seriously, very good work indeed, which I am proud to say our university was involved in (professor Amina Helmi of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, to be precise). I contributed absolutely nothing I should hasten to add. I will be having a go at algorithm development for analysis of these data.

  10. Nick Kew Silver badge

    One up?

    OK, does this count as One Up on Google Maps?

    Perhaps in the sense that the moon landings got One Up on Sputnik?

    I'll get me coat.

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge

    You know you're old when...

    you remember when they discovered quasars.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: You know you're old when...

      and you're *really* old when you can remember when they discovered Pluto (not speaking personally, obvs)

    2. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: You know you're old when...

      Prompted by the remark re. quasars (discovered 1963), I pulled from my bookshelf a volume which I read a great deal when I was young, although it was published some twenty years before I was born. "The Wonder Encyclopaedia for Children" has an initial chapter on The Universe, which conveys the impression that the "spiral nebulae" that are observed with "the best telescopes" are clouds of gas from which a new star (singular) may be born. The caption to a photograph of Mars, with all the resolution of a charcoal pencil drawing, says 'Some astronomers think that Mars has inhabitants, and the lines which you can see are canals for irrigation'. Progress involves un-learning a lot of things!

      1. Alan Johnson

        Re: You know you're old when...

        I had a much read children's encyclopedia when I was young which described the luminiferous aether theory of light propogation replaced by Einstein's theory of special relativity in 1905 (but not in children's science books) and had many other anachronistic entries which even I as a child noticed. One entry I remebered in paticular was for aeroplanes which stated something like 'two types of aeroplanes exist biplanes and mono planes for most practical purposes biplanes have been found to be far superior'. I think it was published in the 30s.

        I guess I am old too.

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