BERLIN (AP) -- The European Space Agency has released a trove of data on almost 2 billion stars in the Milky Way.

It was collected by its Gaia space observatory to create the most accurate and complete map of our galaxy.

Astronomers hope to use the data to understand better how stars are born and die, and how the Milky Way evolved over billions of years.

The new data includes new information such as the age, mass, temperature and chemical composition of stars. Colors in images indicate the stellar metallicity, with redder stars being richer in metals.

This can be used, for example, to determine which stars were born in another galaxy and then migrated to the Milky Way.

The mission is already providing the basis for 1,600 scientific publications a year.