New digital sky survey contains more than three million stars and celestial light sources

The world’s largest digital sky survey was released publicly on December 19 through the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) Surveys, a four-year effort that took observations of three fourths of the night sky from the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawai’i. More than three billion stars, galaxies, and celestial light sources were captured in the half-million exposures, each of which was about 45 seconds long. The survey contains two petabytes of data, according to the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, equivalent to 40 million four-drawer filing cabinets worth of paper.

“The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies,” Dr. Ken Chambers, Director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories, said in a press release. “Pan-STARRS has 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.”

pan starrs panstarrs sky survey
Danny Farrow, Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium and Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestial Physics

Scientists can use information offered by the Pan-STARRS survey to measure previously unknown features of all nearby stars, such as motion and distance. The survey mapped our own Milky Way galaxy in unprecedented detail and collected data on many of the most distant known quasars.

“This will expand the census of almost all objects in the solar neighborhood to distances of about 300 light-years,” said Thomas Henning, director of the Planet and Star Formation Department of MPIA. Using the data, researchers can also better characterize low-mass star formation, identify Jovian planets around cool dwarf stars, and explore the Andromeda galaxy — our nearest neighbor — in extreme detail. Closer to home, the survey mapped the Milky Way in unprecedented detail.

This release will be followed next year by a more detailed release of the survey’s data.

Emerging Tech

This intelligent parachute system can bail out clumsy drone pilots

Parachutes can save drones when they unexpectedly fall from the sky. Among a number of such systems, Austrian firm Drone Rescue is this week showing off its latest design that automatically deploys when it senses trouble.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Home Theater

Put your home theater to the test with these spectacular Blu-ray releases

What's the point of having all of that awesome home theater gear if you can't breed a little jealousy in your friends and family? We've put together this list of fantastic Blu-rays that have the goods to drop a few jaws.
Movies & TV

New 'Mandalorian' photo links series to Boba Fett and 'Star Wars Holiday Special'

Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service will be titled The Mandalorian. The series will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Healthy mice born from two genetic mothers using stem cells, gene editing

Healthy mice have been born from two genetics mothers and later went on to bear healthy offspring of their own, according to a recent paper published by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Emerging Tech

Japanese scientists are chewing over an ‘electric gum’ that never loses flavor

Researchers at Japan's Meiji University may have found the secret to unlimited chewing gum -- and it just involves zapping your tongue with electricity. Here's what makes it all work.
Smart Home

Vector, the engaging Alexa-like robot, is ready to roam around your home

Anyone who has ever watched Short Circuit or WALL-E has surely dreamed about having a robot buddy come live with them. Finally, that dream is now a reality. It's name is Vector, and it's available now.
Emerging Tech

Ekster 3.0 lets you ask, ‘Alexa, where did I leave my wallet?’

Ekster's newest smart wallet is its best yet. It's slimmer than ever, boasts a neat card-dispensing mechanism, and will even let you know where it is, thanks to smart speaker integration.
Emerging Tech

Johns Hopkins’ lab-grown human retina could lead to big insights

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown human retina tissue from scratch in a lab. The work could help with the development of new therapeutics related to eye diseases.
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.