“Biggest Map Ever of the Universe” –Pan-STARRS Telescope Maps the Cosmos and May Save Earth (VIDEO)

 

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The world’s largest digital survey of the visible universe, mapping billions of stars and galaxies, has been published for the first time. Scientists will now be able to study the ‘farthest reaches of the universe and gain insights into elusive dark energy and dark matter’ using the map.


The map is the product of the Pan-STARRS1 telescope using the 1.8 meter telescope at the summit of the Haleakala volcano in Maui, Hawaii, which captured large images of the sky every 30 seconds for four years. The combination of relatively small mirrors with very large digital cameras can observe the entire available sky several times each month. A major goal of Pan-STARRS is to discover and characterize Earth-approaching objects, both asteroids & comets, that might pose an extinction danger to our planet.

 

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. Astronomers said it 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 the Earth.

 

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‘The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogues containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies,” said Ken Chambers, Director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories, at the University of Hawaii. “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 early universe.”

“This rapid, repeating survey has enabled us to discover very rare events in which a massive black hole shreds a passing star, which otherwise would have been impossible to spot,” said Andy Lawrence, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy. “Releasing the data will now enable astronomers round the world to study huge numbers of distant stars and galaxies in ways we can’t even guess.”

The Daily Galaxy via pswww.ifa.hawaii.edu and dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech

Image credits: With thanks to Michael Sweet and NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

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