Dive into the dust of the Milky Way — ScienceDaily

An animated dive into the dusty Milky Way reveals the outlines of our galaxy taking shape as we look further and further away from Earth.

Based on new data from an interactive tool that leverages data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission and other space science datasets, astronomers have created an animation to model dust in the Milky Way . The work was presented this week at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2022) at the University of Warwick.

The animation shows the cumulative accumulation of dust from the local neighborhood of Earth out to about 13,000 light-years toward the galactic center, or about 10% of the total distance across the Milky Way. Nearby, dust swirls all around, but further away, the concentration of dust along the galactic plane becomes clear. Two “windows”, one above and one below the galactic plane, are also revealed.

“Dust clouds are linked to the formation and death of stars, so their distribution tells how structures formed in the galaxy and how the galaxy evolves,” said Nick Cox, EXPLORE project coordinator. who develops the tools. “Maps are also important for cosmologists by revealing regions where there is no dust and we can have a clear, unobstructed view of the Milky Way to study the Universe beyond, such as making observations in deep field with Hubble or the new James Webb. Space Telescope.”

The tools used to create the animation combine data from the Gaia mission and the 2MASS All Sky Survey. The tools are part of a suite of applications designed to support studies of stars and galaxies, as well as lunar exploration, and have been developed with funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

“Machine learning and advanced visual analytics have the power to dramatically improve science feedback and discovery for space science missions, but their use is still relatively new in the field of astronomy,” Albert said. Zijlstra, University of Manchester and the EXPLORE project. “With a steady stream of new data, such as the recent third release of Gaia data in June 2022, we have a growing wealth of information to mine – beyond the scope of what humans could process during We need tools like the ones we are developing for EXPLORE to support scientific discovery, for example by helping us to characterize properties in data, or to select the most interesting or most interesting features and structures. unusual.”

Video: https://youtu.be/K2hwjD5D7L0

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Material provided by Royal Astronomical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.