The Atlantic

The Milky Way Is Still Feeling the Effects of an Ancient Encounter

A close flyby with a small galaxy hundreds of millions of years ago sent ripples through our own that astronomers can still observe today.
Source: ESA

Nearly 1 million miles away from Earth, a top-hat-shaped spacecraft called Gaia has spent the past five years scanning the galaxy and studying its stellar inhabitants. In April, Gaia produced the best census of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy to date, a cornucopia of precise information about nearly 1.7 billion stars in our galaxy. The previous census, released in 2016, contained data on just 2 million stars.

The census itself was a tremendous

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