(ORDO NEWS) — An animated dive into the dusty Milky Way shows how the outline of our galaxy takes shape as we look further and further away from Earth.
Based on new data from an interactive tool that uses data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission and other space science datasets, astronomers have created animations to simulate dust in the Milky Way.
The animation shows the total accumulation of dust from the local vicinity of the Earth up to ~13000 light years to the galactic center – about 10% of the total distance along the Milky Way.
Near – dust whirlwinds around, and further – the concentration of dust along the galactic plane. Two “windows” are also visible, one above and one below the galactic plane.
“Dust clouds are associated with the formation and death of stars, so their distribution tells how structures in the galaxy formed and how the galaxy evolves,” says Nick Cox, coordinator of the EXPLORE project, which is undertaking simulations.
“Maps are also important to cosmologists because they show regions where there is no dust and we can have a clear, unobstructed view from the Milky Way to explore the universe beyond, such as Deep Field observations with Hubble or the new James Webb Space Telescope. “.
With a constant stream of new data, such as the recent third release of the Gaia data in June 2022, there is an increasing amount of information that needs to be mined beyond what a person can process in a lifetime.
Tools like those being developed for EXPLORE are needed to support scientific discoveries, for example, to help characterize data properties or select the most interesting or unusual features and structures.
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