Scientists with the Pan-STARRS project have publicly released the world’s largest digital survey of the visible universe. The survey includes observations of billions of stars and galaxies, comprising two petabytes of computer data.
Astronomers with the Pan-STARRS project used a Hawaiian telescope to continuously scan and image three-quarters of the visible sky for more than four years.
In addition to collecting data on billions of stars, the survey also identified potential asteroids and exoplanets. Algorithms analyzed Pan-STARRS images for evidence of moving objects.
“Pan-STARRS has already made discoveries from Near Earth Objects and Kuiper Belt Objects in the Solar System to lonely planets between the stars,” Ken Chambers, director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories at the University of Hawaii, said in a news release. “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.”
Researchers hope the best of the Pan-STARRS discoveries are yet to come, as professional and amateur astronomers use the record database for new analysis and scientific exploration. Not all of the data is being release at once. Instead, releases of large portions of the database will be rolled out in 2017.
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