Video shows how stars move over the next 1.6 million years

A group of professional astronauts from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission have created the dream of every Pink Floyd superfan: an animation of stars in the night sky running through space, over more than a million years. And, to make matters more cosmic, the animation shows the stars not how they moved in the past, but how they do in the future.

Futurism they picked up the animation, which ESA astronauts recently posted on YouTube. In a post on the ESA’s Gaia site, the group explains how it developed this short, but very clear visual model. And, according to the astronomers, it’s actually “scientifically correct,” using the correct calculations to take the orbit of these stars.

Speaking of which, the animation contains 40,000 stars, within 100-parsec distance of the Sun. (That’s about 3.3 light-years across.) Although the astronomers note that there are far more stars in this cross-section than have been shown. Meaning this sky chip is even more stable IRL.

Stars travel through the night sky

ESA Gaia Mission

The first frame of the animation shows the normal position of the 40,000 stars in the night sky. Note that the dots differ in brightness based on the actual brightness of the stars they represent.

The next several frames show paths emerging from the places of the stars. These tracks show how the stars move across the sky over 80,000 years, and give them an arc that observers can follow. In other words, the astronomers stretched the stars into 80,000-year-old streaks so it’s easier to see their motion.

After that, the clear dots representing the dots fade, leaving only the paths to follow. The rest of the brief animation shows how the stars will move over the next 1.6 million years.

The Gaia astronauts released an equally impressive animation of 74,281 stars in the same 100-parsec cross-section moving around the center of our galaxy. In the video above, the animation shows how the stars will move over the next 500 million years. Suddenly – though maybe not ?! – the animation reminds us a lot of the moving cinnamon roll of the deep sea.