School of Mathematics and Physics


Mapping the Universe


Survey results covering billions of stars released to public

Astronomers have released the world’s largest digital survey of the visible Universe.

The researchers, including some from the Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC), have painstakingly compiled data from billions of stars using a 1.8 - metre telescope at the summit of Haleakalā, on Maui, Hawaii.   

The survey, published by an international coalition of scientists known as Pan-STARRS (the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System), involved repeated imaging of three quarters of the visible sky over an extended period.

Professor Stephen Smartt, Chair of Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) Science Council and Director of research in ARC, 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”.

The material released in December, the “Static Sky”, provides an average value for the position, brightness and colour of objects in the sky at individual moments in time. In a second stage, further material will be released in mid-May 2017.

Professor Smartt added: “It was a fantastic team effort and now we hope the whole science community will benefit from this public release of our data.”

For further details, visit the Pan-STARRS website here.‌


22 December 2016

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