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See detailGaia Data Release 2. The celestial reference frame (Gaia-CRF2)
Gaia Collaboration; Mignard, F.; Klioner, S. A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2018), 616(A), 14

Context. The second release of Gaia data (Gaia DR2) contains the astrometric parameters for more than half a million quasars. This set defines a kinematically non-rotating reference frame in the optical ... [more ▼]

Context. The second release of Gaia data (Gaia DR2) contains the astrometric parameters for more than half a million quasars. This set defines a kinematically non-rotating reference frame in the optical domain. A subset of these quasars have accurate VLBI positions that allow the axes of the reference frame to be aligned with the International Celestial Reference System (ICRF) radio frame. <BR /> Aims: We describe the astrometric and photometric properties of the quasars that were selected to represent the celestial reference frame of Gaia DR2 (Gaia-CRF2), and to compare the optical and radio positions for sources with accurate VLBI positions. <BR /> Methods: Descriptive statistics are used to characterise the overall properties of the quasar sample. Residual rotation and orientation errors and large-scale systematics are quantified by means of expansions in vector spherical harmonics. Positional differences are calculated relative to a prototype version of the forthcoming ICRF3. <BR /> Results: Gaia-CRF2 consists of the positions of a sample of 556 869 sources in Gaia DR2, obtained from a positional cross-match with the ICRF3-prototype and AllWISE AGN catalogues. The sample constitutes a clean, dense, and homogeneous set of extragalactic point sources in the magnitude range G ≃ 16 to 21 mag with accurately known optical positions. The median positional uncertainty is 0.12 mas for G < 18 mag and 0.5 mas at G = mag. Large- scale systematics are estimated to be in the range 20 to 30 μas. The accuracy claims are supported by the parallaxes and proper motions of the quasars in Gaia DR2. The optical positions for a subset of 2820 sources in common with the ICRF3-prototype show very good overall agreement with the radio positions, but several tens of sources have significantly discrepant positions. <BR /> Conclusions: Based on less than 40% of the data expected from the nominal Gaia mission, Gaia-CRF2 is the first realisation of a non-rotating global optical reference frame that meets the ICRS prescriptions, meaning that it is built only on extragalactic sources. Its accuracy matches the current radio frame of the ICRF, but the density of sources in all parts of the sky is much higher, except along the Galactic equator. [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 2. Observations of solar system objects
Gaia Collaboration; Spoto, F.; Tanga, P. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2018), 616(A), 13

Context. The Gaia spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) has been securing observations of solar system objects (SSOs) since the beginning of its operations. Data Release 2 (DR2) contains the ... [more ▼]

Context. The Gaia spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) has been securing observations of solar system objects (SSOs) since the beginning of its operations. Data Release 2 (DR2) contains the observations of a selected sample of 14,099 SSOs. These asteroids have been already identified and have been numbered by the Minor Planet Center repository. Positions are provided for each Gaia observation at CCD level. As additional information, complementary to astrometry, the apparent brightness of SSOs in the unfiltered G band is also provided for selected observations. <BR /> Aims: We explain the processing of SSO data, and describe the criteria we used to select the sample published in Gaia DR2. We then explore the data set to assess its quality. <BR /> Methods: To exploit the main data product for the solar system in Gaia DR2, which is the epoch astrometry of asteroids, it is necessary to take into account the unusual properties of the uncertainty, as the position information is nearly one-dimensional. When this aspect is handled appropriately, an orbit fit can be obtained with post-fit residuals that are overall consistent with the a-priori error model that was used to define individual values of the astrometric uncertainty. The role of both random and systematic errors is described. The distribution of residuals allowed us to identify possible contaminants in the data set (such as stars). Photometry in the G band was compared to computed values from reference asteroid shapes and to the flux registered at the corresponding epochs by the red and blue photometers (RP and BP). <BR /> Results: The overall astrometric performance is close to the expectations, with an optimal range of brightness G 12 - 17. In this range, the typical transit-level accuracy is well below 1 mas. For fainter asteroids, the growing photon noise deteriorates the performance. Asteroids brighter than G 12 are affected by a lower performance of the processing of their signals. The dramatic improvement brought by Gaia DR2 astrometry of SSOs is demonstrated by comparisons to the archive data and by preliminary tests on the detection of subtle non-gravitational effects. [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 2. Kinematics of globular clusters and dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way
Gaia Collaboration; Helmi, A.; van Leeuwen, F. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2018), 616(A), 12

Context. <BR /> Aims: The goal of this paper is to demonstrate the outstanding quality of the second data release of the Gaia mission and its power for constraining many different aspects of the dynamics ... [more ▼]

Context. <BR /> Aims: The goal of this paper is to demonstrate the outstanding quality of the second data release of the Gaia mission and its power for constraining many different aspects of the dynamics of the satellites of the Milky Way. We focus here on determining the proper motions of 75 Galactic globular clusters, nine dwarf spheroidal galaxies, one ultra-faint system, and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. <BR /> Methods: Using data extracted from the Gaia archive, we derived the proper motions and parallaxes for these systems, as well as their uncertainties. We demonstrate that the errors, statistical and systematic, are relatively well understood. We integrated the orbits of these objects in three different Galactic potentials, and characterised their properties. We present the derived proper motions, space velocities, and characteristic orbital parameters in various tables to facilitate their use by the astronomical community. <BR /> Results: Our limited and straightforward analyses have allowed us for example to (i) determine absolute and very precise proper motions for globular clusters; (ii) detect clear rotation signatures in the proper motions of at least five globular clusters; (iii) show that the satellites of the Milky Way are all on high-inclination orbits, but that they do not share a single plane of motion; (iv) derive a lower limit for the mass of the Milky Way of 9.1[SUB]-2.6[/SUB][SUP]+6.2[/SUP] × 10[SUP]11[/SUP] M[SUB]☉[/SUB] based on the assumption that the Leo I dwarf spheroidal is bound; (v) derive a rotation curve for the Large Magellanic Cloud based solely on proper motions that is competitive with line-of-sight velocity curves, now using many orders of magnitude more sources; and (vi) unveil the dynamical effect of the bar on the motions of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud. <BR /> Conclusions: All these results highlight the incredible power of the Gaia astrometric mission, and in particular of its second data release. Full Table D.3 is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (<A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://130.79.128.5</A>) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/qcat?J/A+A/616/A12">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/qcat?J/A+A/616/A12</A> [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 2. Mapping the Milky Way disc kinematics
Gaia Collaboration; Katz, D.; Antoja, T. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2018), 616(A), 11

Context. The second Gaia data release (Gaia DR2) contains high-precision positions, parallaxes, and proper motions for 1.3 billion sources as well as line-of-sight velocities for 7.2 million stars ... [more ▼]

Context. The second Gaia data release (Gaia DR2) contains high-precision positions, parallaxes, and proper motions for 1.3 billion sources as well as line-of-sight velocities for 7.2 million stars brighter than G[SUB]RVS[/SUB] = 12 mag. Both samples provide a full sky coverage. <BR /> Aims: To illustrate the potential of Gaia DR2, we provide a first look at the kinematics of the Milky Way disc, within a radius of several kiloparsecs around the Sun. <BR /> Methods: We benefit for the first time from a sample of 6.4 million F-G-K stars with full 6D phase-space coordinates, precise parallaxes (σ[SUB]ϖ[/SUB]/ϖ ≤ 20%), and precise Galactic cylindrical velocities (median uncertainties of 0.9-1.4 km s[SUP]-1[/SUP] and 20% of the stars with uncertainties smaller than 1 km s[SUP]-1[/SUP] on all three components). From this sample, we extracted a sub-sample of 3.2 million giant stars to map the velocity field of the Galactic disc from 5 kpc to 13 kpc from the Galactic centre and up to 2 kpc above and below the plane. We also study the distribution of 0.3 million solar neighbourhood stars (r < 200 pc), with median velocity uncertainties of 0.4 km s[SUP]-1[/SUP], in velocity space and use the full sample to examine how the over-densities evolve in more distant regions. <BR /> Results: Gaia DR2 allows us to draw 3D maps of the Galactocentric median velocities and velocity dispersions with unprecedented accuracy, precision, and spatial resolution. The maps show the complexity and richness of the velocity field of the galactic disc. We observe streaming motions in all the components of the velocities as well as patterns in the velocity dispersions. For example, we confirm the previously reported negative and positive galactocentric radial velocity gradients in the inner and outer disc, respectively. Here, we see them as part of a non-axisymmetric kinematic oscillation, and we map its azimuthal and vertical behaviour. We also witness a new global arrangement of stars in the velocity plane of the solar neighbourhood and in distant regions in which stars are organised in thin substructures with the shape of circular arches that are oriented approximately along the horizontal direction in the U - V plane. Moreover, in distant regions, we see variations in the velocity substructures more clearly than ever before, in particular, variations in the velocity of the Hercules stream. <BR /> Conclusions: Gaia DR2 provides the largest existing full 6D phase-space coordinates catalogue. It also vastly increases the number of available distances and transverse velocities with respect to Gaia DR1. Gaia DR2 offers a great wealth of information on the Milky Way and reveals clear non- axisymmetric kinematic signatures within the Galactic disc, for instance. It is now up to the astronomical community to explore its full potential. [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 2. Observational Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams
Gaia Collaboration; Babusiaux, C.; van Leeuwen, F. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2018), 616(A), 10

Context. Gaia Data Release 2 provides high-precision astrometry and three-band photometry for about 1.3 billion sources over the full sky. The precision, accuracy, and homogeneity of both astrometry and ... [more ▼]

Context. Gaia Data Release 2 provides high-precision astrometry and three-band photometry for about 1.3 billion sources over the full sky. The precision, accuracy, and homogeneity of both astrometry and photometry are unprecedented. <BR /> Aims: We highlight the power of the Gaia DR2 in studying many fine structures of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (HRD). Gaia allows us to present many different HRDs, depending in particular on stellar population selections. We do not aim here for completeness in terms of types of stars or stellar evolutionary aspects. Instead, we have chosen several illustrative examples. <BR /> Methods: We describe some of the selections that can be made in Gaia DR2 to highlight the main structures of the Gaia HRDs. We select both field and cluster (open and globular) stars, compare the observations with previous classifications and with stellar evolutionary tracks, and we present variations of the Gaia HRD with age, metallicity, and kinematics. Late stages of stellar evolution such as hot subdwarfs, post-AGB stars, planetary nebulae, and white dwarfs are also analysed, as well as low-mass brown dwarf objects. <BR /> Results: The Gaia HRDs are unprecedented in both precision and coverage of the various Milky Way stellar populations and stellar evolutionary phases. Many fine structures of the HRDs are presented. The clear split of the white dwarf sequence into hydrogen and helium white dwarfs is presented for the first time in an HRD. The relation between kinematics and the HRD is nicely illustrated. Two different populations in a classical kinematic selection of the halo are unambiguously identified in the HRD. Membership and mean parameters for a selected list of open clusters are provided. They allow drawing very detailed cluster sequences, highlighting fine structures, and providing extremely precise empirical isochrones that will lead to more insight in stellar physics. <BR /> Conclusions: Gaia DR2 demonstrates the potential of combining precise astrometry and photometry for large samples for studies in stellar evolution and stellar population and opens an entire new area for HRD- based studies. The full Table A.1 is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (<A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://130.79.128.5</A>) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/qcat?J/A+A/616/A10">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/qcat?J/A+A/616/A10</A> [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 2. Summary of the contents and survey properties
Gaia Collaboration; Brown, A. G. A.; Vallenari, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2018), 616(A1), 1-22

Context. We present the second Gaia data release, Gaia DR2, consisting of astrometry, photometry, radial velocities, and information on astrophysical parameters and variability, for sources brighter than ... [more ▼]

Context. We present the second Gaia data release, Gaia DR2, consisting of astrometry, photometry, radial velocities, and information on astrophysical parameters and variability, for sources brighter than magnitude 21. In addition epoch astrometry and photometry are provided for a modest sample of minor planets in the solar system. <BR /> Aims: A summary of the contents of Gaia DR2 is presented, accompanied by a discussion on the differences with respect to Gaia DR1 and an overview of the main limitations which are still present in the survey. Recommendations are made on the responsible use of Gaia DR2 results. <BR /> Methods: The raw data collected with the Gaia instruments during the first 22 months of the mission have been processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) and turned into this second data release, which represents a major advance with respect to Gaia DR1 in terms of completeness, performance, and richness of the data products. <BR /> Results: Gaia DR2 contains celestial positions and the apparent brightness in G for approximately 1.7 billion sources. For 1.3 billion of those sources, parallaxes and proper motions are in addition available. The sample of sources for which variability information is provided is expanded to 0.5 million stars. This data release contains four new elements: broad-band colour information in the form of the apparent brightness in the G[SUB]BP[/SUB] (330-680 nm) and G[SUB]RP[/SUB] (630-1050 nm) bands is available for 1.4 billion sources; median radial velocities for some 7 million sources are presented; for between 77 and 161 million sources estimates are provided of the stellar effective temperature, extinction, reddening, and radius and luminosity; and for a pre-selected list of 14 000 minor planets in the solar system epoch astrometry and photometry are presented. Finally, Gaia DR2 also represents a new materialisation of the celestial reference frame in the optical, the Gaia-CRF2, which is the first optical reference frame based solely on extragalactic sources. There are notable changes in the photometric system and the catalogue source list with respect to Gaia DR1, and we stress the need to consider the two data releases as independent. <BR /> Conclusions: Gaia DR2 represents a major achievement for the Gaia mission, delivering on the long standing promise to provide parallaxes and proper motions for over 1 billion stars, and representing a first step in the availability of complementary radial velocity and source astrophysical information for a sample of stars in the Gaia survey which covers a very substantial fraction of the volume of our galaxy. [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 1. Open cluster astrometry: performance, limitations, and future prospects
Gaia Collaboration; van Leeuwen, F.; Vallenari, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2017), 601

Context. The first Gaia Data Release contains the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS). This is a subset of about 2 million stars for which, besides the position and photometry, the proper motion and ... [more ▼]

Context. The first Gaia Data Release contains the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS). This is a subset of about 2 million stars for which, besides the position and photometry, the proper motion and parallax are calculated using Hipparcos and Tycho-2 positions in 1991.25 as prior information. <BR /> Aims: We investigate the scientific potential and limitations of the TGAS component by means of the astrometric data for open clusters. <BR /> Methods: Mean cluster parallax and proper motion values are derived taking into account the error correlations within the astrometric solutions for individual stars, an estimate of the internal velocity dispersion in the cluster, and, where relevant, the effects of the depth of the cluster along the line of sight. Internal consistency of the TGAS data is assessed. <BR /> Results: Values given for standard uncertainties are still inaccurate and may lead to unrealistic unit-weight standard deviations of least squares solutions for cluster parameters. Reconstructed mean cluster parallax and proper motion values are generally in very good agreement with earlier Hipparcos-based determination, although the Gaia mean parallax for the Pleiades is a significant exception. We have no current explanation for that discrepancy. Most clusters are observed to extend to nearly 15 pc from the cluster centre, and it will be up to future Gaia releases to establish whether those potential cluster-member stars are still dynamically bound to the clusters. <BR /> Conclusions: The Gaia DR1 provides the means to examine open clusters far beyond their more easily visible cores, and can provide membership assessments based on proper motions and parallaxes. A combined HR diagram shows the same features as observed before using the Hipparcos data, with clearly increased luminosities for older A and F dwarfs. Tables D.1 to D.19 are also available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (<A href="http://130.79.128.5">http://130.79.128.5</A>) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/601/A19">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/601/A19</A> [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 1: Testing parallaxes with local Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars
Clementini, G.; Eyer, L.; Ripepi, V. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2017), 605

Context. Parallaxes for 331 classical Cepheids, 31 Type II Cepheids, and 364 RR Lyrae stars in common between Gaia and the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogues are published in Gaia Data Release 1 (DR1) as ... [more ▼]

Context. Parallaxes for 331 classical Cepheids, 31 Type II Cepheids, and 364 RR Lyrae stars in common between Gaia and the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogues are published in Gaia Data Release 1 (DR1) as part of the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS). Aims. In order to test these first parallax measurements of the primary standard candles of the cosmological distance ladder, which involve astrometry collected by Gaia during the initial 14 months of science operation, we compared them with literature estimates and derived new period-luminosity (PL), period-Wesenheit (PW) relations for classical and Type II Cepheids and infrared PL, PL-metallicity (PLZ), and optical luminosity-metallicity (MV-[Fe/H]) relations for the RR Lyrae stars, with zero points based on TGAS. Methods. Classical Cepheids were carefully selected in order to discard known or suspected binary systems. The final sample comprises 102 fundamental mode pulsators with periods ranging from 1.68 to 51.66 days (of which 33 with σΩ/Ω< 0.5). The Type II Cepheids include a total of 26 W Virginis and BL Herculis stars spanning the period range from 1.16 to 30.00 days (of which only 7 with σΩ/Ω< 0.5). The RR Lyrae stars include 200 sources with pulsation period ranging from 0.27 to 0.80 days (of which 112 with σΩ/Ω< 0.5). The new relations were computed using multi-band (V,I,J,Ks) photometry and spectroscopic metal abundances available in the literature, and by applying three alternative approaches: (i) linear least-squares fitting of the absolute magnitudes inferred from direct transformation of the TGAS parallaxes; (ii) adopting astrometry-based luminosities; and (iii) using a Bayesian fitting approach. The last two methods work in parallax space where parallaxes are used directly, thus maintaining symmetrical errors and allowing negative parallaxes to be used. The TGAS-based PL,PW,PLZ, and MV- [Fe/H] relations are discussed by comparing the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud provided by different types of pulsating stars and alternative fitting methods. Results. Good agreement is found from direct comparison of the parallaxes of RR Lyrae stars for which both TGAS and HST measurements are available. Similarly, very good agreement is found between the TGAS values and the parallaxes inferred from the absolute magnitudes of Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars analysed with the Baade-Wesselink method. TGAS values also compare favourably with the parallaxes inferred by theoretical model fitting of the multi-band light curves for two of the three classical Cepheids and one RR Lyrae star, which were analysed with this technique in our samples. The K-band PL relations show the significant improvement of the TGAS parallaxes for Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars with respect to the Hipparcos measurements. This is particularly true for the RR Lyrae stars for which improvement in quality and statistics is impressive. Conclusions. TGAS parallaxes bring a significant added value to the previous Hipparcos estimates. The relations presented in this paper represent the first Gaia-calibrated relations and form a work-in-progress milestone report in the wait for Gaia-only parallaxes of which a first solution will become available with Gaia Data Release 2 (DR2) in 2018. © ESO, 2017. [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 1. Summary of the astrometric, photometric, and survey properties
Gaia Collaboration; Brown, A. G. A.; Vallenari, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Context. At about 1000 days after the launch of Gaia we present the first Gaia data release, Gaia DR1, consisting of astrometry and photometry for over 1 billion sources brighter than magnitude 20.7. <BR ... [more ▼]

Context. At about 1000 days after the launch of Gaia we present the first Gaia data release, Gaia DR1, consisting of astrometry and photometry for over 1 billion sources brighter than magnitude 20.7. <BR /> Aims: A summary of Gaia DR1 is presented along with illustrations of the scientific quality of the data, followed by a discussion of the limitations due to the preliminary nature of this release. <BR /> Methods: The raw data collected by Gaia during the first 14 months of the mission have been processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) and turned into an astrometric and photometric catalogue. <BR /> Results: Gaia DR1 consists of three components: a primary astrometric data set which contains the positions, parallaxes, and mean proper motions for about 2 million of the brightest stars in common with the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogues - a realisation of the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS) - and a secondary astrometric data set containing the positions for an additional 1.1 billion sources. The second component is the photometric data set, consisting of mean G-band magnitudes for all sources. The G-band light curves and the characteristics of 3000 Cepheid and RR Lyrae stars, observed at high cadence around the south ecliptic pole, form the third component. For the primary astrometric data set the typical uncertainty is about 0.3 mas for the positions and parallaxes, and about 1 mas yr[SUP]-1[/SUP] for the proper motions. A systematic component of 0.3 mas should be added to the parallax uncertainties. For the subset of 94 000 Hipparcos stars in the primary data set, the proper motions are much more precise at about 0.06 mas yr[SUP]-1[/SUP]. For the secondary astrometric data set, the typical uncertainty of the positions is 10 mas. The median uncertainties on the mean G-band magnitudes range from the mmag level to 0.03 mag over the magnitude range 5 to 20.7. <BR /> Conclusions: Gaia DR1 is an important milestone ahead of the next Gaia data release, which will feature five-parameter astrometry for all sources. Extensive validation shows that Gaia DR1 represents a major advance in the mapping of the heavens and the availability of basic stellar data that underpin observational astrophysics. Nevertheless, the very preliminary nature of this first Gaia data release does lead to a number of important limitations to the data quality which should be carefully considered before drawing conclusions from the data. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Gaia mission
Gaia Collaboration; Prusti, T.; de Bruijne, J. H. J. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Gaia is a cornerstone mission in the science programme of the EuropeanSpace Agency (ESA). The spacecraft construction was approved in 2006, following a study in which the original interferometric concept ... [more ▼]

Gaia is a cornerstone mission in the science programme of the EuropeanSpace Agency (ESA). The spacecraft construction was approved in 2006, following a study in which the original interferometric concept was changed to a direct-imaging approach. Both the spacecraft and the payload were built by European industry. The involvement of the scientific community focusses on data processing for which the international Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) was selected in 2007. Gaia was launched on 19 December 2013 and arrived at its operating point, the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth-Moon system, a few weeks later. The commissioning of the spacecraft and payload was completed on 19 July 2014. The nominal five-year mission started with four weeks of special, ecliptic-pole scanning and subsequently transferred into full-sky scanning mode. We recall the scientific goals of Gaia and give a description of the as-built spacecraft that is currently (mid-2016) being operated to achieve these goals. We pay special attention to the payload module, the performance of which is closely related to the scientific performance of the mission. We provide a summary of the commissioning activities and findings, followed by a description of the routine operational mode. We summarise scientific performance estimates on the basis of in-orbit operations. Several intermediate Gaia data releases are planned and the data can be retrieved from the Gaia Archive, which is available through the Gaia home page. <A href="http://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia">http://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia</A> [less ▲]

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See detailThe Gaia astrophysical parameters inference system (Apsis). Pre-launch description
Bailer-Jones, C. A. L.; Andrae, R.; Arcay, B. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2013), 559

The Gaia satellite will survey the entire celestial sphere down to 20th magnitude, obtaining astrometry, photometry, and low resolution spectrophotometry on one billion astronomical sources, plus radial ... [more ▼]

The Gaia satellite will survey the entire celestial sphere down to 20th magnitude, obtaining astrometry, photometry, and low resolution spectrophotometry on one billion astronomical sources, plus radial velocities for over one hundred million stars. Its main objective is to take a census of the stellar content of our Galaxy, with the goal of revealing its formation and evolution. Gaia's unique feature is the measurement of parallaxes and proper motions with hitherto unparalleled accuracy for many objects. As a survey, the physical properties of most of these objects are unknown. Here we describe the data analysis system put together by the Gaia consortium to classify these objects and to infer their astrophysical properties using the satellite's data. This system covers single stars, (unresolved) binary stars, quasars, and galaxies, all covering a wide parameter space. Multiple methods are used for many types of stars, producing multiple results for the end user according to different models and assumptions. Prior to its application to real Gaia data the accuracy of these methods cannot be assessed definitively. But as an example of the current performance, we can attain internal accuracies (RMS residuals) on F,G,K,M dwarfs and giants at G=15 (V=15-17) for a wide range of metallicites and interstellar extinctions of around 100K in effective temperature (Teff), 0.1mag in extinction (A0), 0.2dex in metallicity ([Fe/H]), and 0.25dex in surface gravity (logg). The accuracy is a strong function of the parameters themselves, varying by a factor of more than two up or down over this parameter range. After its launch in November 2013, Gaia will nominally observe for five years, during which the system we describe will continue to evolve in light of experience with the real data. [less ▲]

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