Milky Way mega-map and UK science turmoil

Mega-map of Milky Way gives stars’ movements more depth

A significant update has been made to astronomers’ primary resource manual for the Milky Way. A considerably better atlas has been made available by the Gaia project, a spacecraft that is tracking about two billion stars. In addition to the identification of stellar “quakes” and potential extrasolar planets, the map now shows the 3D motions of tens of millions of stars and thousands of asteroids.

The collection of 34 months’ worth of data was unveiled by the mission’s team on June 13.

The European Space Agency launched Gaia in 2013, and it orbits the Sun at a set distance from Earth. It measures the same stars repeatedly and from various angles. This causes each star to appear to move by a tiny amount of angle, usually millionths of a degree, in relation to its distance. The mission crew determines the star’s separation from the Sun using such variations and a method known as parallax.

The collection of in-depth spectra for nearly a million stars is the biggest addition to the previous database. The team has estimated 30 million “radial velocity” readings by monitoring a spectrum’s Doppler shift. Each one shows how fast a star is travelling toward or away from the Sun. The information gives a complete reconstruction of the star’s trajectory as it rounds the Galaxy when combined with Gaia’s observations of the star’s velocity across the sky and its distance.

fears that the UK may withdraw from the EU research fund
After UK science minister George Freeman (pictured) stated on June 8 that “time is approaching” for a favourable resolution, worries that the United Kingdom is about to leave the European Union’s Horizon Europe research programme have grown.

Horizon Europe, which has a budget of over €100 billion (US$106 billion), offers research financing to academics in EU member states and any countries who elect to become “associate members.” However, since the country decided to leave the EU in 2016, the UK’s involvement in the programme has been in doubt. As part of the broader Brexit agreement, the EU and the UK reached an agreement in December 2020 to keep working together on Horizon Europe. But

UK participation in Horizon is “being used as a bargaining chip in a much broader and bigger political negotiation”, says Kieron Flanagan, a science-policy researcher at the University of Manchester, UK.

The UK government has said that if an agreement cannot be reached, it will develop its own £15-billion (US$18.7-billion) research programme to rival Horizon Europe

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