Binary Stars Are All Around Us, New Map Shows

The latest star data from the Gaia space observatory has for the first time allowed astronomers to generate a massive 3D atlas of widely separated binary stars within about 3,000 light years of Earth — 1.3 million of them.

The one-of-a-kind atlas, created by Kareem El-Badry, an astrophysics Ph.D. student from the University of California, Berkeley, should be a boon for those who study binary stars — which make up at least half of all sunlike stars — and white dwarfs, exoplanets and stellar evolution, in general. Before Gaia, the last compilation of nearby binary stars, assembled using data from the now-defunct Hipparcos satellite, included about 200 likely pairs.

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