Tagged With the milky way

The European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft team has dropped its long-awaited trove of data about 1.7 billion stars. You can see a new visualisation of all those stars in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies above, but you really need to zoom in to appreciate just how much stuff there is in the map. Yes, the specks are stars.

Video: I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen the Little Dipper - the 2003 blackout, a family trip to the Grand Canyon, a camping trip, and a stargazing drive through Wisconsin cut short by the cold. I don't remember ever seeing the faint band of the Milky Way. Growing up in New York's suburbs, there just aren't many stars visible in the night sky.

Physicists would love to find hints of dark matter to explain the parts of the universe we just haven't been able to figure out. Dark matter would neatly explain the strange behaviours of galaxies and oddly bent light in our universe. But a new paper may have snuffed out dark matter as a candidate for a mystery at the centre of our galaxy.

Any Carl Sagan fan knows you're made of star stuff. Protons don't decay into any other particles (as far as we can tell), so you can reliably assume that most bits of you have been around since a second after the Big Bang. But if you're thinking a little more locally, you might wonder whether the Milky Way formed in its entirety before little ol' you were made.