Gaia in the UK

Taking the Galactic Census

Science

Gaia scientific goals

Areas of science touched on by Gaia. Download the large version of the image (1.21 MB). (Image courtesy of ESA.)

A successful Gaia mission will fundamentally change astronomy, by replacing with direct measurement what could till now at best be estimated based on a string of, often simplifying, assumptions.

The results of Gaia mission will enable us to make giant leaps in our understanding of a wide range of science topics, including:

  • solar system studies through the detection of members of groups of asteroids that are difficult to observe from Earth, systematic detection of extra-solar planets;
  • stellar structure and evolution through the much improved surveys of stellar clusters;
  • galactic dynamics through the combined information on distances, space velocities and stellar spectral types;
  • cosmology through the detection of large numbers of Quasi-Stellar Objects (QSOs) and a few thousand supernovae (see Guest Stars with Gaia: Mapping the Transient Sky and Supernovae: tools for Cosmology with Gaia);
  • and fundamental physics through testing aspects of general relativity to an unprecedented accuracy.

Watch Science@ESA vodcast "Episode 6: Charting the Galaxy - from Hipparcos to Gaia" (courtesy of ESA) to learn more about the Gaia mission and its science. (Skip video.)

Download the script of the vodcast. "Episode 6: Charting the Galaxy - from Hipparcos to Gaia" is also available for download from ESA's website.

Gaia Data Release 1

Gaia’s first data release was published on 14 September 2016.

Contents:

  • Positions and Gaia 'G' magnitudes for 1.1 billion stars using only Gaia data;
  • Positions, parallaxes (distances) and proper motions for more than 2 million stars using the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS);
  • Light curves and characteristics for about 3000 variable stars;
  • Positions and G magnitudes for more than 2000 quasars – extragalactic sources used to define the celestial reference frame.

Access: All the data is available from the ESA Gaia Archive: http://gea.esac.esa.int/archive/ and from the main partner data centres:

Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS): http://cds.unistra.fr/gaia

ASI Science Data Center (ASDC): http://gaiaportal.asdc.asi.it

Astronomisches Rechen-Institut (ARI): http://gaia.ari.uni-heidelberg.de

Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP): https://gaia.aip.de/

Gaia Data Release 1 Science Workshops

The Gaia Data Release 1 is scheduled for Wednesday 14th September.

The UK Gaia project (https://www.gaia.ac.uk) is organising a series of one day workshops open to interested astronomers in the UK. These will provide a basic introduction to the Gaia mission, an overview of the catalogue contents including scientific quality and practical information on how to handle and access them from the Gaia archive for science research.

Also try

Open University's videos in "60 Second Adventures in Astronomy" series.

What does Gaia see?

Page last updated: 18 October 2016