This is the Biggest 3D Catalog of Stars and Galaxies: What Should You Know

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Astronomers from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have joined their forces and developed the world’s greatest 3D astronomical catalog of stars, quasars, and of course, galaxies. How did they do that?

In a recent paper, they explained everything from their main goal to the data they utilized. Here is what you need to know.

Galaxies Comprised in a Special Catalog

The team of astronomers utilized data from UH’s Pan-STARRS1 or PS1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) on Haleakala. The PS1 is considered one of the greatest multi-color optical surveys, crossing three-quarters of the sky. 

The astronomers also used new computational tools to the catalog to reveal which of the 3 billion objects are quasars, stars, and galaxies. But for the galaxies, the software determined estimations of their lengths. 

The final 3D catalog has been officially published as a high-level science product via the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes. According to the team, the catalog is around 300GB in size. The science users can explore it via the MAST CasJobs SQL interface. Or just download it as a computer-viewable table.

Developing the Catalog

The team took enough spectroscopic measurements that offered definitive distances and object classifications and put everything in an AI algorithm. 

The AI procedure was significant in guiding astronomers to find out how to precisely define the same traits from various measures of the sizes and colors of the objects. 

Finally, the AI approach offered an overall classification accuracy of 96.6 % for quasars, 97.8 % for stars, and 98.1 % for galaxies. As for the galaxy, length estimates are accurate to approximately 3 %. 

“This beautiful map of the Universe provides one example of how the power of the Pan-STARSS big data set can be multiplied with artificial intelligence techniques and complementary observations,” stated Ken Chambers, the Pan-STARSS Director and IfA Associate Astronomer.


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