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Scientists release most detailed star chart of the Milky Way

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BERLIN — The European Space Agency is releasing the most detailed star chart yet for the Milky Way and neighbouring galaxies.

The data released Wednesday include high-precision measurements of almost 1.7 billion stars collected by the space agency’s Gaia probe, which was launched in 2013.

It follows the release two years ago of a smaller batch of measurements covering 2 million stars.

ESA says professional and amateur astronomers alike will be able to access the data and hunt for new discoveries.

Unlike NASA’s Hubble telescope, which takes images of the sky, Gaia measures the distance, motion, brightness and colour of stars.

The data were then processed by hundreds of scientists and software engineers to produce maps, including of the asteroids in our solar system and a three-dimensional chart of nearby stars.

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