A animated dive into the dusty Milky Way lets you see the shapes of the galaxy as it forms.
Astronomers have created an animation to simulate dust in the Milky Way using new data from an interactive tool that uses data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission. This work was presented at the University of Warwick’s National Astronomy Meeting (2022 NAM 2022).
This animation shows the accumulation of dust from Earth’s nearest neighbourhood to the galactic centre, approximately 10% of the distance across the Milky Way. The dust is scattered around, but the concentration of dust on the galactic plane becomes apparent. There are two windows, one above the galactic plane and one below.
Nick Cox, who is the coordinator of EXPLORE, said that dust clouds are linked to the formation and death stars. Their distribution tells a story about how structures form in the galaxy and how they evolve.” “The maps are important for cosmologists because they can reveal regions where there is not dust. We can see the Milky Way clearly and unobstructed to study the Universe beyond.
The animation was created using data from both the Gaia mission as well as the 2MASS All Sky Survey. These tools are part a suite of applications that support star and galaxies studies, as well lunar exploration. They were developed with funding from Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Union.
Albert Zijlstra of the University of Manchester, and the EXPLORE Project, said that “State-of the-art machine learning, visual analytics, and visual analytics have tremendous potential to greatly increase scientific return and discovery in space science missions.” We have an ever-growing amount of data to mine, including the third release of Gaia data June 2022. This is beyond what human beings can process in a lifetime. EXPLORE is a tool that supports scientific discovery. It helps us to identify the properties of the data and to find the most unusual and interesting structures.