DATABASE: Stellar Speed Trap

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Science  03 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5765, pp. 1221
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5765.1221d

A new database may help astronomers figure out how much our galaxy weighs and whether it filched some of its stars from other galaxies. The Radial Velocity Experiment is an international project to gauge the temperature, composition, surface gravity, and speed of up to 1 million Southern Hemisphere stars by 2010. Captured by an instrument at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, the data supplement other surveys, such as the Hipparcos mission, by adding hard-to-obtain readings of radial velocity, a star's speed toward or away from us. Last month, the site posted the first measurements on nearly 25,000 stars. Included is a view of the night sky showing the project's current coverage, with red marking the swiftest stars.

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