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. 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. 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. 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 GBP (330–680 nm) and GRP (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. 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.
Gaia is a cornerstone mission in the science programme of the European Space 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.
Context. Open clusters are convenient probes of the structure and history of the Galactic disk. They are also fundamental to stellar evolution studies. The second Gaia data release contains precise astrometry at the sub-milliarcsecond level and homogeneous photometry at the mmag level, that can be used to characterise a large number of clusters over the entire sky. Aims. In this study we aim to establish a list of members and derive mean parameters, in particular distances, for as many clusters as possible, making use of Gaia data alone. Methods. We compile a list of thousands of known or putative clusters from the literature. We then apply an unsupervised membership assignment code, UPMASK, to the Gaia DR2 data contained within the fields of those clusters. Results. We obtained a list of members and cluster parameters for 1229 clusters. As expected, the youngest clusters are seen to be tightly distributed near the Galactic plane and to trace the spiral arms of the Milky Way, while older objects are more uniformly distributed, deviate further from the plane, and tend to be located at larger Galactocentric distances. Thanks to the quality of Gaia DR2 astrometry, the fully homogeneous parameters derived in this study are the most precise to date. Furthermore, we report on the serendipitous discovery of 60 new open clusters in the fields analysed during this study.
Aims. The scientific community needs to be prepared to analyse the data from Gaia, one of the most ambitious ESA space missions, which is to be launched in 2012. The purpose of this paper is to provide data and tools to predict how Gaia photometry is expected to be. To do so, we provide relationships among colours involving Gaia magnitudes (white light G, blue G BP , red G RP and G RVS bands) and colours from other commonly used photometric systems (Johnson-Cousins, Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Hipparcos and Tycho). Methods. The most up-to-date information from industrial partners has been used to define the nominal passbands, and based on the BaSeL3.1 stellar spectral energy distribution library, relationships were obtained for stars with different reddening values, ranges of temperatures, surface gravities and metallicities. Results. The transformations involving Gaia and Johnson-Cousins V − I C and Sloan DSS g − z colours have the lowest residuals. A polynomial expression for the relation between the effective temperature and the colour G BP −G RP was derived for stars with T eff ≥ 4500 K. For stars with T eff < 4500 K, dispersions exist in gravity and metallicity for each absorption value in g − r and r − i. Transformations involving two Johnson or two Sloan DSS colours yield lower residuals than using only one colour. We also computed several ratios of total-to-selective absorption including absorption A G in the G band and colour excess E(G BP -G RP ) for our sample stars. A relationship involving A G /A V and the intrinsic (V − I C ) colour is provided. The derived Gaia passbands have been used to compute tracks and isochrones using the Padova and BASTI models. Finally, the performances of the predicted Gaia magnitudes have been estimated according to the magnitude and the celestial coordinates of the star. Conclusions. The provided dependencies among colours can be used for planning scientific exploitation of Gaia data, performing simulations of the Gaia-like sky, planning ground-based complementary observations and for building catalogues with auxiliary data for the Gaia data processing and validation.
Context. We present the early installment of the third Gaia data release, Gaia EDR3, consisting of astrometry and photometry for 1.8 billion sources brighter than magnitude 21, complemented with the list of radial velocities from Gaia DR2. Aims. A summary of the contents of Gaia EDR3 is presented, accompanied by a discussion on the differences with respect to Gaia DR2 and an overview of the main limitations which are present in the survey. Recommendations are made on the responsible use of Gaia EDR3 results. Methods. The raw data collected with the Gaia instruments during the first 34 months of the mission have been processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium and turned into this early third data release, which represents a major advance with respect to Gaia DR2 in terms of astrometric and photometric precision, accuracy, and homogeneity. Results. Gaia EDR3 contains celestial positions and the apparent brightness in G for approximately 1.8 billion sources. For 1.5 billion of those sources, parallaxes, proper motions, and the (GBP − GRP) colour are also available. The passbands for G, GBP, and GRP are provided as part of the release. For ease of use, the 7 million radial velocities from Gaia DR2 are included in this release, after the removal of a small number of spurious values. New radial velocities will appear as part of Gaia DR3. Finally, Gaia EDR3 represents an updated materialisation of the celestial reference frame (CRF) in the optical, the Gaia-CRF3, which is based solely on extragalactic sources. The creation of the source list for Gaia EDR3 includes enhancements that make it more robust with respect to high proper motion stars, and the disturbing effects of spurious and partially resolved sources. The source list is largely the same as that for Gaia DR2, but it does feature new sources and there are some notable changes. The source list will not change for Gaia DR3. Conclusions. Gaia EDR3 represents a significant advance over Gaia DR2, with parallax precisions increased by 30 per cent, proper motion precisions increased by a factor of 2, and the systematic errors in the astrometry suppressed by 30–40% for the parallaxes and by a factor ~2.5 for the proper motions. The photometry also features increased precision, but above all much better homogeneity across colour, magnitude, and celestial position. A single passband for G, GBP, and GRP is valid over the entire magnitude and colour range, with no systematics above the 1% level
Context. The second Gaia data release (DR2) contains very precise astrometric and photometric properties for more than one billion sources, astrophysical parameters for dozens of millions, radial velocities for millions, variability information for half a million stars from selected variability classes, and orbits for thousands of solar system objects. Aims. Before the catalogue was published, these data have undergone dedicated validation processes. The goal of this paper is to describe the validation results in terms of completeness, accuracy, and precision of the various Gaia DR2 data. Methods. The validation processes include a systematic analysis of the catalogue content to detect anomalies, either individual errors or statistical properties, using statistical analysis and comparisons to external data or to models. Results. Although the astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic data are of unprecedented quality and quantity, it is shown that the data cannot be used without dedicated attention to the limitations described here, in the catalogue documentation and in accompanying papers. We place special emphasis on the caveats for the statistical use of the data in scientific exploitation. In particular, we discuss the quality filters and the consideration of the properties, systematics, and uncertainties from astrometry to astrophysical parameters, together with the various selection functions.
Context. The large astrometric and photometric survey performed by the Gaia mission allows for a panoptic view of the Galactic disc and its stellar cluster population. Hundreds of stellar clusters were only discovered after the latest Gaia data release (DR2) and have yet to be characterised. Aims. Here we make use of the deep and homogeneous Gaia photometry down to G = 18 to estimate the distance, age, and interstellar reddening for about 2000 stellar clusters identified with Gaia DR2 astrometry. We use these objects to study the structure and evolution of the Galactic disc. Methods. We relied on a set of objects with well-determined parameters in the literature to train an artificial neural network to estimate parameters from the Gaia photometry of cluster members and their mean parallax. Results. We obtain reliable parameters for 1867 clusters. Our catalogue confirms the relative lack of old stellar clusters in the inner disc (with a few notable exceptions). We also quantify and discuss the variation of scale height with cluster age, and we detect the Galactic warp in the distribution of old clusters. Conclusions. This work results in a large and homogeneous cluster catalogue, allowing one to trace the structure of the disc out to distances of ∼4 kpc. However, the present sample is still unable to trace the outer spiral arm of the Milky Way, which indicates that the outer disc cluster census might still be incomplete.
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