Space telescope spots unexpected tsunami-like starquakes

Strange and unexpected tsunami-like starquakes – movements on stars’ crusts similar to earthquakes we experience on our planet – have been revealed by the European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory.

Gaila revealed fresh details on nearly 2 billion stars in our galaxy. “Starquakes teach us a lot about stars, notably their internal workings. Gaia is opening a goldmine for ‘asteroseismology’ of massive stars,” - Gaia Member

The unusual starquakes are among multiple new discoveries made by Gaia, a mission launched in 2013 to create the “most accurate and complete multi-dimensional map of the Milky Way.”

The agency described the stellar vibrations spotted by Gaia as “large-scale tsunamis” that changed the shape of stars

"This new data release creates a detailed bank of information, essentially working as a DNA map that allows us to understand the stellar population of our Galaxy, and track its past, present and future."

Gaia is uniquely positioned about 930,000 miles from Earth in the opposite direction from the sun. The spacecraft carries two telescopes that can scan our galaxy from a location called the Lagrange 2, or L2, point

At this point, the spacecraft is able to remain in a stable spot due to the balance of gravitational forces between Earth and the sun.

This also means that the spacecraft doesn’t have any interference from Earth’s light, and it can use the minimum amount of fuel to remain in a fixed position. That allows Gaia to have unfettered views and continuously scan our galaxy.


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