On July 29, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS) released a new open dataset of 60,000 stars from across our galaxy. It is the first such release by the survey’s Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), which aims to create a census of stars in the Milky Way. The data consist of high resolution spectra, which are measurements of light emitted by the stars at each wavelength across the electromagnetic spectrum. Spectra help astrophysicists infer the chemical composition of stars, which is linked to their age; as a result, the database will help researchers study the formation of our galaxy and what it might have been like at various stages of existence. The release also includes hundreds of thousands of spectra from other galaxies and quasars beyond the Milky Way, collected for another SDSS initiative.
Data for a Galactic Census
Travis Korte is a research analyst at the Center for Data Innovation specializing in data science applications and open data. He has a background in journalism, computer science and statistics. Prior to joining the Center for Data Innovation, he launched the Science vertical of The Huffington Post and served as its Associate Editor, covering a wide range of science and technology topics. He has worked on data science projects with HuffPost and other organizations. Before this, he graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley, having studied critical theory and completed coursework in computer science and economics. His research interests are in computational social science and using data to engage with complex social systems. You can follow him on Twitter @traviskorte.
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