The data has been made
available by the international Pan-STARRS
project, which includes scientists from
Queen's University Belfast, who have predicted
that it will lead to new discoveries about the
Astronomers and cosmologists used a 1.8-metre
telescope at the summit of Haleakalā, on Maui,
Hawaii, to repeatedly image three quarters of
the visible sky over four years.
Three billion sources
The data they have captured in the Pan-STARRS1
Surveys is made up of three billion separate
sources, including stars, galaxies, and other
immense collection of information contains two
petabytes of computer data -- equivalent to
one billion selfies or one hundred times the
total content of Wikipedia.
Pan-STARRS is hosted by the University of
Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, which is
releasing the data alongside the Space
Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA.
The international collaboration also includes
Queen's University Belfast and the
Universities of Durham and Edinburgh and is
supported by NASA and the National Science
Foundation.Durham's contribution was funded by
a generous donation from the Ogden Trust and
Luminous distant explosions
Queen's University Belfast Professor Stephen
Smartt, who is Chair of the Pan-STARRS1 (PS1)
Science Council, said: "We've worked on this
project for more than five years at Queen's
and have found the most luminous distant
explosions in the Universe and also nearby
asteroids in our solar system.
was a fantastic team effort and now we hope
the whole science community will benefit from
this public release of our data."
In May 2010, the Panoramic Survey Telescope &
Rapid Response System, or Pan-STARRS,
observatory embarked on a digital survey of
the sky in visible and near infrared light.
This was the first survey with a goal of observing
the sky very rapidly over and over again,
looking for moving objects and transient or
variable objects, including asteroids
that could potentially threaten Earth.
Dr Ken Chambers, Director of the Pan-STARRS
Observatories, at the University of Hawaii,
said: "The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys
anyone to access millions of images and use
the database and catalogues containing
precision measurements of billions of
stars and galaxies.
"Pan-STARRS has already 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
The roll-out of the survey data is being done
in two steps.
Today's release is the "Static Sky" which
provides an average value for the position,
brightness and colour for objects captured in
the sky at individual moments in time.
In 2017, a second set of data will be released
including catalogues and images from each of
the individual snapshots that Pan-STARRS took
of a given region of sky.
data from the Pan-STARRS1 surveys will be
available online at panstarrs.stsci.edu.
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