Bigger, Better Catalog Unveils Half a Billion Celestial Objects
These frames are samples from the photographic sky surveys, which have been digitized by a technical team at the Space Telescope Science Institute to support the Hubble Space Telescope operations. The team processed these images to create a new astronomical catalog, called the Guide Star Catalog II. This project was undertaken by the Space Telescope Science Institute as an upgrade to an earlier sky survey and catalog (DSS-I and GSC-I), initially done to provide guide stars for pointing the Hubble Space Telescope. By virtue of its sheer size, the DSS-II and GSC-II have many research applications for both professional and amateur astronomers.
An example from the DSS-II shows the Rosette Nebula, (originally photographed by the Palomar Observatory) as digitized in the DSS-I (left) and DSS-II (right). The DSS-II includes views of the sky at both red and blue wavelengths, providing invaluable color information on about one billion deep-sky objects.
This blow-up of the inset box in the raw DSS-I scan shows examples of the GSC-I and the improved GSC-II catalogs. Astronomers extracted the stars from the scanned plate of the Rosette and listed them in the catalogs. The new GSC-II catalog provides the colors, positions, and luminosities of nearly half a billion stars - over 20 times as many as the original GSC-I. The GSC-II contains information on stars as dim as the 19th magnitude.
NASA, the DSS-II and GSC-II Consortia (with images from the 'Palomar Observatory-STScI Digital Sky Survey of the northern sky, based on scans of the Second Palomar Sky Survey are copyright © 1993-1999 by the California Institute of Technology)