ESA Gaia Milky Way Future
None of us, or at least our physical bodies, will be around in 160-million-years, so the only way to see what the Milky Way Galaxy looks like at that time is through simulations. The European Space Agency has created an amazing time-lapse to show us just that, and the first frame gives the current positions on the sky for 40,000 stars within 100 parsecs (326 light-years) from the Sun. The dots also indicate the brightness of the stars, and all the information is based on the Gaia EDR3 positions as well as brightness of these stars. Read more for the video and additional information.



In the next few frames, you’ll see trails starting from the locations of the stars that indicate how they change position on the sky over time intervals of 80,000 years into the future. These trails also show the present-day brightness of the star they correspond to. The next thing you’ll see are the starting positions of the stars fading away and showing only the trails of stars moving across the sky, which are followed for 1.6 million years into the future.

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The animation shows only 40 000 stars within 100 parsec from the Sun. There are in fact many more stars within that distance from the Sun, and here only a random subset of stars is shown, those for which the radial velocity is known in Gaia EDR3 and for which the parallaxes are known to better than 10 percent. If one wants to visualize the motion across the sky of stars within a 100 pc radius sphere around the Sun, we should also account for the fact that some stars will disappear beyond the boundary of the sphere, while other stars will enter the sphere as they approach us from beyond 100 pc. This is not taken into account in the simulation,” said the European Space Agency.