The night sky is now closer within our reach. And all thanks to a team of astronomers. They just released to the public a massive database of nearby stars. And also the software and tutorial that can open it to a general use.
Have you always dreamed of discovering an exoplanet? Or perhaps just dreaming amongst the stars? Now you will be able to do so thanks to a team of astronomers. They come from a number of universities. And the program was led by MIT and the Carnegie Mellon Institution for Science scientists.
The massive database of nearby stars is based on two decades worth of observations. These come from the HiRES spectrometer. And they rely on radial velocity.
HiRES is the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer. And it is part of the W.M. Keck Observatory. This is located in Hawaii, on the summit of Mauna Kea.
The massive database provided by HiRES targets our neighboring stars. And it contains data on over 1,600 neighboring bodies. These are all situated in an area within 325 light years from our planet.
By using such data, research has already made important discoveries. A previous study noted the potential existence of 100 potential exoplanets. Still, detecting them is not enough. The stars require more observations and research. As such, their official status has yet to be determined.
Jennifer Burt went to offer a statement. She is one of the scientists involved in making the massive database publicly available. Burt is a Torres Postdoctoral Fellow part of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. And she states as follows.
This massive database of the nearby stars is an amazing catalog. And it should have more eyes trained upon it. According to Burt, the scientists working with it reached the following conclusion.
They just aren’t many enough. Although the team is doing as much science as it can. More people would have to be involved in studying it. As such, they may help discover all that the respective space portion has to offer.
Burt also pointed out the following. The team is trying to shift its approach. It will be trying to advance a more community-oriented view. As such, more people will be able to access the database. Which might lead to more potential interesting discoveries. Ones that may also come more often.
Besides the massive database, the astronomers also released a set of tools. These should help the public draw the most out of the offered data. Which may also help the scientists and research in general.
One of the tools is an online tutorial. This should offer a sort of initial training. And help the public maneuver the data. It will also offer a rundown of the software package. This is the second tool. And it should also help when navigating the massive data collection.
This will also contain about 61,000 individual measurements of the 1,600 nearby stars. The observations are based on the star’s response to an orbiting planet.
When encountering their atmosphere, the stars react with a sort of “wobble”. Each database will present details of such an event. For example, it will offer its data and the velocity of the star. It will also contain that velocity’s error and also its activity measurements for when it was observed.
The massive database may be the ground for new discoveries. Which could be based on these datasets. Or it may also offer the needed data for more in-depth studies. Ones which will determine if a potential candidate is, or not, an exoplanet.
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