The last episode of The Sky at Night featured the European Space Agency’s Gaia telescope, which is taking images of our Milky Way galaxy from space. Its higher image quality provides high spatial resolution, distinguishing stars from each other better, meaning several different stars can be seen when before it looked like there was just one. This has resulted in the estimate of stars in our galaxy doubling to around 300 billion.
Galaxy Between Solar System and Universe
For readers new to astronomy, our planet Earth is in a solar system circling our star, the sun. Our solar system is one of billions in our galaxy. Our galaxy is one of billions in the universe. What is beyond our observable universe is unknown, and just theories at the moment. There is a similar explanation on Night Sky.
The rest of our galaxy is visible in clear dark sky. Here’s a nice greenYgrey one:
Telescope Increased Star Clarity
While it looks as if we can see everything in the night sky, especially when it already seems full of stars, space carries on for a distance way beyond our sight, and even current human understanding.
What look like bright white clouds within the Milky Way galaxy ribbon are masses of stars indistinguishable to the human naked eye.
Gaia can distinguish stars within our Milky Way down to this amount of clarity within a small part of it.
With Europe, China and India joining historical heavyweights Russia and the U.S.A. in advancing space technology and research there are exciting times ahead in knowledge of our place in the universe… if we don’t blow our planet up beforehand!