Astronomers have presented a new catalog of objects close to the solar system, which includes stars, brown dwarfs, and exoplanets located within 10 parsecs of the Sun. In total, the cosmic chart contains 541 objects, based on which scientists have created an interactive three-dimensional map.
10 things you need to know about the new cosmic chart and recent similar attempts
1. Attempts to compile a cosmic chart of stars visible in the sky with the naked eye have been going on since ancient Greece. Yet, the most accurate data on the properties and position of objects close to the Sun were obtained after the launch of the Hipparcos and Gaia astrometric spacecraft into space in recent years.
2. Such studies allow us to better understand the physics of stars using the example of bodies closest to us and learn more about the solar system’s place in the Milky Way.
3. A group of astronomers led by Celine Reyle of the UTINAM Research Institute in France has published a new cosmic chart and catalog of bodies such as stars, brown dwarfs, and exoplanets within 10 parsecs (33 light-years) of the Sun.
4. When compiling it, scientists used data from the third catalog of the Gaia telescope and the SIMBAD database and published scientific works.
5. The final catalog contains 541 objects, from which 373 are stars. These include 20 white dwarfs and one additional candidate, 86 brown dwarfs (this is the name for objects located at an intermediate position between stars and planets), and three unconfirmed candidates.
6. Besides stars, the catalog includes 77 exoplanets found in 339 star systems (of which 70 are binary, 19 are triple, three systems consist of four stars, and two of five). Researchers have provided an incredible zoomable image of the entire star chart which, unfortunately, cannot be placed in this article. You can follow the link at the top and see all objects with their names from up close.
7. Many of the stars in the vicinity of the Sun are red dwarfs, such as the closest one, Proxima Centauri, which contains the closest exoplanet to the Sun. This alien world will likely be selected for a future mission in the upcoming years or decades.
8. Sirius is the brightest star within 10 parsecs of the Sun, while the brown dwarf WISE J085510.74–071442.5 is the coldest object to date.
9. Earlier this year in January, another team from the citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 composed a comprehensive 3D map of brown dwarfs in a radius of 65-light-years to the Solar System.
10. In total, researchers selected 361 brown dwarfs using data from the Spitzer telescope. Once again, they were able to create a comprehensive 3D map which is available in the video below.
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• Gruze.org. (n.d.). The 10 parsec sample in the Gaia era.
• O’Callaghan, J. (2021, May 07). Cosmic census REVEALS 540 stars and planets in our neighbourhood.
• Reylé, C., Jardine, K., Fouqué, P., Caballero, J., Smart, R., & Sozzetti, A. (2021, April 30). The 10 parsec sample in the Gaia era.
• Talbert, T. (2021, January 13). Citizen scientists help create 3d map of cosmic neighborhood.