European Space Agency Flickr Update

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ESA’s Star Mapper visualisation
12-09-2016 04:20 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

ESA's Star Mapper visualisation

In 1989, ESA launched the first space mission dedicated to astrometry – the science of charting the sky. The satellite was named Hipparcos , echoing the name of ancient Greek astronomer, Hipparchus, who compiled the oldest known stellar catalogue in the second century BC.

Hipparcos operated for over three years and a catalogue based on its data, released in 1997, had a major impact on many areas of astronomy research.

This catalogue listed 117 955 stars, reporting their positions with unprecedented accuracy, alongside estimates of their distance from us and motions through the Galaxy. It was a huge advance on the best catalogues compiled from ground-based observations, which contained information for just over 8000 stars.

The newly launched ESA Star Mapper visualisation is an exploration of some central aspects of astrometric star catalogues, using data from ESA’s Hipparcos mission.

This interactive experience allows users to delve into this famous dataset, exploring the three-dimensional distribution of almost 60 000 stars from the Hipparcos Catalogue. Stars are visualised as a function of their brightness; it is also possible to show their colours, as well as names and parent constellations for the brightest stars.

Users can get a sense of where in the sky stars were located in the past – or will be in the future – based on their motions measured by Hipparcos.

A visualisation of the ‘Hertzsprung-Russell diagram’, a tool used by astronomers to study the evolution of stars, is provided as well.

The next great breakthrough in this field will come with ESA’s Gaia mission, launched in 2013. Gaia will make a census of more than a billion stars – roughly 1% of the content of our Galaxy – of such superb precision and detail that it will revolutionise astronomy again.

The journey starts at: sci.esa.int/star_mapper/

More about Hipparcos: sci.esa.int/hipparcos/

Standing out from the crowd
12-09-2016 01:52 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Standing out from the crowd

A lone source shines out brightly from the dark expanse of deep space, glowing softly against a picturesque backdrop of distant stars and colourful galaxies.

Captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), this scene shows PGC 83677, a lenticular galaxy – a galaxy type that sits between the more familiar elliptical and spiral varieties in the Hubble sequence.

This image was obtained as part of the Coma Cluster Survey. It reveals both the relatively calm outskirts and intriguing core of PGC 83677. Here, studies have uncovered signs of a monstrous black hole that is spewing out high-energy X-rays and ultraviolet light.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Acknowledgements: Judy Schmidt

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