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Gaia telescope discovers two ancient streams of stars Shiva & Shakti

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 22-03-2024
Gaia telescope discovers two ancient streams of stars Shiva & Shakti Space 5 min read

The European Space Agency's Gaia space telescope has discovered two ancient streams of stars called Shiva and Shakti. These new discoveries have greatly advanced human understanding of the origin of the galaxy.

  • Formed approximately 12 billion years ago, these celestial structures are among the earliest structures that contributed to the formation of our galaxy.

Discovery led by Khyati Malhan of MPIA:

  • These ancient structures have been discovered under the leadership of Khyati Malhan of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg, Germany.
  • Khyati Malhan has expressed surprise at the ability to unearth these ancient structures.
  • According to Malhan, the galaxy has changed a lot since the birth of these stars.
  • This discovery was made possible through Gaia's observations. This will help researchers determine the orbits and composition of stars within the galaxy. According to Malhan, by visualizing the orbits of these stars, two new structures emerged, distinguished by their unique chemical composition. Researchers named them 'Shakti' and 'Shiva'.
  • Each cluster carries a mass of about 10 million suns. It consists of stars aged 12 to 13 billion years moving in remarkably similar orbits and structures.
  • They were formed as separate fragments that merged into one galaxy early in its history.
  • Both streams are located towards the heart of the galaxy. The region was discovered by Gaia through 'galactic archaeology' in 2022. This exploration revealed the oldest stars in the galaxy. All of them were born even before the formation of the disc of the galaxy.
  • The stars in this region are so ancient that they lack many of the heavy metal elements created later in the universe's lifetime.

Naming of Shakti and Shiva star:

  • Although there are similarities between Shakti and Shiva, they are not the same. The Shakti stars have orbits that are slightly more distant from the galactic center and are characterized by more circular paths compared to those of Shiva. These streams are named after a divine couple in Hindu philosophy, symbolizing the creation of the universe.

Highlighting the Galaxy's early years:

  • The discovery sheds light on the galaxy's early years. This suggests that it originated from many long, irregular filaments of gas and dust. These joined together, formed stars and eventually gave rise to galaxies.
  • Future Gaia space telescope data releases may reveal more about these components.

About Gaia Space Telescope:

  • It was launched in December 2013.
  • The Gaia spacecraft is a mission operated by the European Space Agency.
  • Gaia has been surveying the skies for more than a decade and collecting vast amounts of data.
  • Its purpose is to create an accurate 3D map of the Milky Way by measuring the position, distance, speed and other properties of about one billion stars present in the galaxy.
  • In addition to mapping the Milky Way, data from Gaia are also being used to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena. In which the aim is to monitor the dynamics of star clusters and galaxies beyond the Milky Way along with the discovery of new exoplanets.


Answer: Gaia Space Telescope (European Space Agency)

Answer: Shiva and Shakti

Answer: European Space Agency

Answer: 2013
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