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Stories of the stars

14 Nov 2013, 11:01 UTC
Stories of the stars NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Gaia, the billion star surveyor. This is the mission slogan. A billion stars. One thousand million stars... That is a lot. Really a lot of stars. If the final catalogue with just the summary of all data accumulated by Gaia … Continue reading →

Giant star Zeta Ophiuchi. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
Gaia, the billion star surveyor. This is the mission slogan. A billion stars. One thousand million stars... That is a lot. Really a lot of stars. If the final catalogue with just the summary of all data accumulated by Gaia were printed and all volumes were nicely aligned in my bookshelf, the row of 53,542 volumes would extend 1.3 km (and this would only be the summary data of all non-special stars). So, I hope you appreciate the point that a billion stars is really a lot. This is also what one of the space enthusiasts that visited the open day of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) a few weeks ago must have thought when he asked me this question after the Gaia lecture I delivered: “A billion stars, but there are by far not enough astronomers to study these all...” And, for sure, he was right.

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