Gaia is a space observatory launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) whose mission is to create a detailed map of the Milky Way, revealing secrets of the birth, structure and evolution of it, as well as some aspects of the inner workings of the stars. Gaia has as its goal to capture information from billions of objects around space. Originally, it was supposed that during the five years life time of the observatory, Gaia would monitor and take register of the luminosity, color and composition of the stars and specific objects, however, it indirectly detects planets, galaxies and some other celestial bodies. The work of the space observatory has managed to remain, believing that it would have a useful life until 2025. Up to now, Gaia has made available tree databases for the scientific community, the last one being released on june 13. All that information allows us to perform multiple studies and discoveries, inside and outside our solar system. For ERIS, the work that Gaia is executing has a huge relevance, since the information enables studies about the origin of the Milky Way, our home galaxy.
The new information collected will give astronomers a new perspective about the properties of stars, along with the ability to understand in a better way the structure and evolution of our galaxy.
Some of the recent discoveries and measurements, thanks to the information given by Gaia, are the so-called starquakes, stellar DNA (i.e. their detailed chemical abundance inventory), galaxies in some other places, asteroids, binary systems and extragalactic objects.
In conversation with Paula Jofré, head of the Núcleo Milenio ERIS, she stresses the importance that Gaia has, by becoming the largest data gathering instrument in astronomy. Through the preliminary stage of Gaia’s launch, Paula remarked “Gaia used to be a promise, I remember that moment, when it was said that Gaia could make things for the future and now is being achieved what in the past was thought. It is wonderful to see the evolution across the time, at some point there wasn’t much work and people linked to the galactic and stellar astronomy, it was a slow field, but now is incredible how new chances have been created”
Thanks to the huge amount of information that Gaia has provided, new studies have been prompted, linking artificial intelligence (AI), data science and other cutting edge topics, applying them to space, making the work more dynamic and linking different fields of science. Until now, there is no other instrument, activity or organization that has an essential and interdisciplinary impact as Gaia does, making it unique in investigative matters.
“Fósiles del cosmos” and Gaia
The work made by Paula and multiple female scientifics involved in the book “Fósiles del Cosmos, descifrando la historia de la Vía Láctea”, has a close relationship with Gaia, being this satellite the base tool for the studies, and in part means that the most important investigations, also called gold proofs, have been finds by charge of this female scientifics.
For Paula it was quite important to highlight the work made by her coworkers in the book, nevertheless, thanks to the recent deliveries by Gaia, could be reflected in a better way.
“I chose those people because they are who I collaborate with, people that have inspired me, people that in some way have helped me to develop my own science, it is gratifying to see them there. We are all connected by Gaia”
The future across astronomy.
“Science is hope”, Paula states, who after the last delivery of scientific data, highlights how admirable it can be. The existent agreement of collaborative work is fundamental in the science avances, the work that is being done or that will start soon thanks to the recently revealed, shows how human being teams are so capable.
“These projects or achievements, that as humanity we are capable to make, give me hope, if we are capable of making something this wonderful and incredible altogether, collaborating and having a solid vision or goal, is a thing of agree for later solve daily problems, is not that hard, is not that we are not capable. The actual astronomic projects demonstrate what we are capable to make as humans beings”