John Keats wrote 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' which is certainly true of the beautiful images of our galaxy obtained by the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft. Verily, these pictures are gorgeous.
The real beauty of these images is the impact they will have on astrophysics for the foreseeable future. I mean, hypervelocity stars... I don't think it gets cooler than that.
My favorite quote from the coverage of Gaia has got to be from Dr Jackie Faherty from AMNH: "This is the data we're going to be working on for the rest of my career. Probably no data set will rival this. It's the excitement of the day that we see it. It's why we were up at 5 a.m. to get here. It's exciting to be around each other and trying to get the data all at once. It's a day we're going to remember."
The future of many careers, all from one data set, from one space mission. Now, that's what I call a successful project! Getting back to Keats, he went on to write: "that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know", and that is a statement that I can't get behind! There's plenty we need to know, and the journey to knowledge doesn't get more gorgeous than Gaia.