Home > Agencies & Organisations, Astronomy, ESO (European Southern Observatory), General Astronomy, Milky Way, Stars > A 84-Million Star Color-Magnitude Diagram Of The Milky Way Bulge

A 84-Million Star Color-Magnitude Diagram Of The Milky Way Bulge


VISTA gigapixel mosaic of the central parts of the Milky Way. Credit: ESO/VVV Consortium

Astronomy & Astrophysics published the first analysis of a catalog of 84 million individual stars in the Milky Way bulge as a part of the VVV ESO public survey. This gigantic data set allows building the largest, deepest, and most accurate color-magnitude diagram ever produced, containing more than ten times more stars than any previous study.

The bulge of the Milky Way is a large central concentration of ancient stars that is predominantly observed from the southern hemisphere. Understanding the formation and evolution of the bulge is fundamental for deciphering the properties of our Galaxy. In the bulge of the Milky Way, very faint individual stars can be observed, allowing astronomers to separate stellar populations based on age, kinematics, and chemical composition. However, the bulge is centered on the stellar disk of the Milky Way, where most of the stars, gas, and dust of our Galaxy is concentrated. This makes observations of the bulge very challenging because they are affected by crowding, extinction by interstellar dust, and the depth effect of stars being at a range of distances from us.

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