Institute of Astronomy


Gaia mission releases 3D census of over 1 billion stars

Published on 24/04/2018 

The European Space Agency's Gaia mission has released its second batch of data. This release includes information on 1.7 billion objects (including stars, galaxies, quasars, and asteroids). This dataset covers a volume of space 1000 times greater than the previous Gaia release, with a hundredfold improvement in precision. This data will benefit almost all branches of astronomy, shedding light on the formation of our Solar System, the evolution of stars, the history of the Milky Way, the distribution of dark matter, and the calibration the Universe's distance scale.

Variable Universe

Variable stars, RR Lyrae, transients, supernovae, microlensing events.

Gaia: a Stereoscopic Census of our Galaxy

Gaia is the ESA cornerstone mission set to revolutionise our understanding of the Milky Way.

Gravitational Lensing

Gravitational lensing is used to determine the masses of lensing galaxies and clusters and to study more distant galaxies that can be magnified by a factor of more than 20.


Quasars are the most luminous objects in the Universe and powered by accreting supermassive black holes in the centres of galaxies.

Cambridge Astronomy Survey Unit

CASU is involved in survey astronomy with expertise covering ground- and space-based projects ranging from data processing and image analysis techniques through to data curation and access to UK facility data archives.


Typically, the target systems correspond to lensing of z > 0.5 star-forming galaxies by luminous red galaxies and brightest cluster galaxies.