STATES CHRONICLE – Scientists have revealed to the public a massive dataset of stars. A group of specialists led by the Carnegie Institute of Science has recently published an extensive database which contains about 61,000 Doppler velocity calculations of 1,600 stars in our vicinity. The team of researchers invites people to access their dataset to discover the next exoplanet.
All the materials and information collected to make up this massive dataset were gathered between 1994 to 2008 by the High-Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES) which is located at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. HIRES usually analyzes the incoming light of a star and uses it to split it into several color channels similar to a rainbow.
This helps specialists find out more the composition of the star, its speed when moving towards other celestial object and radial velocity. Even if the dataset was not developed to search for exoplanets, Jennifer Burt, a member of the group of scientists and an MIT Torres postdoctoral researcher, stated that HIRES proved to be an efficient planet-hunter.
Burt noted that HIRES was initially created in the late ‘80s to offer scientists the possibility to look at fuzzy, faint galaxies. Steven Vogt was the professor who designed this project, being part of the planet-hunting team. He was one of Burt’s advisors. Vogt created HIRES and implemented the machinery needed to turn the device into an exoplanet machine.
HIRES is equipped with a gaseous iodine absorption cell used by scientists to examine periodic changes which may occur in the light spectrum of a parent star, being called Doppler shifts. These changes are determined by slight modifications which take place in the velocity of a star. Scientists can use it to figure out an exoplanet’s gravitational tug.
Until now, the team of scientists has revealed about one hundred exoplanets by utilizing the data from HIRES. They even managed to discover an exoplanet which orbits the fourth-nearest star to our solar system. The discoveries were published in the Astronomical Journal.
Burt together with her colleagues granted the public access to the HIRES data hoping to receive suggestions and great ideas. Users only need to install the console of the team, select a star for further analysis and use a unique tool to decrease or increase a time window of astronomical observations.
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