Survey releases latest catalog of astronomical data

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a consortium of astronomers with leadership at Princeton, has released to the public one of the largest catalogs of astronomical data ever produced.

The data, published in the form of a searchable electronic database, contains images and measurements of 88 million galaxies, stars and quasars and covers 8 percent of the entire sky. The database, known as data release 2 or DR2, is the second major release from the Sloan survey, which unveiled a smaller catalog in 2003.

The new release is a cumulative catalog of data collected since the survey began in 1998. The SDSS consortium, which includes more than 200 astronomers at 13 institutions, plans to map up to a quarter of the entire sky and to determine the position and brightness of several hundred million celestial objects.

SDSS data already have led to important discoveries about the age, history and structure of the universe as well as insights into subjects ranging from the formation of galaxies to the number and size of local asteroids. However, there is much more science to be done, said Michael Strauss, a Princeton professor of astrophysics and the scientific spokesperson for the survey consortium.

"Getting DR2 out to the broader astronomical community and to the general public will allow these data to be analyzed for projects limited only by the imagination and ingenuity of the user," Strauss said. The data is available through the SDSS Web site .

Read the full story in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601