World’s Largest Digital Survey Of Visible Universe Released

Posted: Dec 19 2016, 11:26pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

World’s Largest Digital Survey of Visible Universe Released
A view of the entire sky visible from Hawaii by the Pan-STARRS1 Observatory. Credit: Credit: Danny Farrow, Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium and Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestial Physics
 

The survey includes more than 3 billion stars, galaxies and other objects in universe

Astronomers have created the world’s largest digital survey of universe by pinning down the precise positions of more than 3 billion stars, galaxies and other sources on night sky. The survey has been released to the public today.

In an effort to construct the largest digital sky survey ever, researchers from Pan-STARRS project at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy observed three quarter of the night sky for more than four years.

Pan-STARRS or Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System started peering at visible stars and galaxies in the universe back in 2010 and imaged them via 1.8-metre telescope at the summit of Haleakalā, on Maui, Hawaii every 30 seconds for the next four years. 

By observing the night sky over and over again, researchers have attempted to spot even the faintest stars and distant galaxies as well as moving objects like asteroids that could potentially threaten the Earth. The extensive information gathered over those four years is equivalent to one billion selfies or one hundred times the total content of Wikipedia. All the information has been cataloged in a way that is quick to access and comprehend.

 “The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies,” said Dr. Ken Chambers, director of Pan-STARRS Observatories. 

“Pan-STARRS has made discoveries from Near Earth Objects and Kuiper Belt Objects in the Solar System to lonely planets between the stars; it has mapped the dust in three dimensions in our galaxy and found new streams of stars; and it has found new kinds of exploding stars and distant quasars in the early universe.”

The immense collection of data can help researchers to measure distances, motions and other traits of stars and other astronomical objects and can led to new discoveries about the universe. Pan-STARRS has even mapped our home galaxy, the Milky Way and documented the distribution of stars in it to a level of detail never achieved before.

The current release provides an extensive view of all the objects captured in the visible universe. In 2017, the second set of data will be released, providing information on each of the individual snapshots that Pan-STARRS took of a given region of sky.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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