The Pan-STARRS1 Survey

The Pan-STARRS1 Survey

Pan-STARRS1 (the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 1) is an optical and near infrared survey that covers the entire sky north of declination −30°, including the galactic plane.

Top: The Pan-STARRS1 telescope at dawn with Mauna Kea in the background. Bottom: The gigapixel camera GPC1 undergoing final assembly in Manoa, June 2007. The circular aperture above the focal plane holds the third lens of the telescope corrector.

The survey was performed from Haleakalā, Hawaiʻi by a 1.8-meter telescope outfitted with a wide-angle (7 square degrees), 1.4 billion pixel CCD camera.

In 2006, the Max Planck Society (MPIA and MPE in Garching) founded the Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium (PS1SC) alongside the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) of the University of Hawaiʻi and a dozen other scientific institutions worldwide specifically to carry out this survey.

The Survey

The Pan-STARRS1 telescope collected data between Summer 2009 and Spring 2013. The survey is the first pan-optic, multi-band, time-domain survey, covering an unprecedented 3/4 of the entire sky observed about 12 times in 5 broad passband filters (g,r,i,z, and y). It is also the best calibrated ground-based survey (better than 10 milimagnitudes) with an impressive multi-epoch, multi-color database that contains over 1 billion objects and 25Tb of catalog data.

Sky coverage of the Pan-STARRS1 survey in a Hammer-Aitoff projection with equatorial coordinates. The survey covers 3/4 of the entire sky down to a declination of −30°, including a large fraction of the plane of the Milky Way.

Key Projects

To take advantage of the survey’s depth and unprecedented sky coverage, the Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium framed 12 scientific areas, called "key projects," each focusing on a particular area of astronomical research—from the closest and smallest bodies in the inner Solar System to the largest structures and the most distant objects in the Universe. The MPG strongly supports the projects within the Science Consortium and the MPIA leads the effort in four key projects dedicated to: 

Key Project 3 - a census of our stellar backyard; all nearby low-mass objects, both stars and brown dwarfs. MPIA Project Leads: Wolfgang Brandner and Bertrand Goldman. [more]
Key Project 4 (Pan-Planets) - the search for transiting (eclipsing) “hot Jupiters" around cool stars, in particular M dwarfs. MPIA Project Lead: Thomas Henning. [more]
Key Project 5 - the study of our galaxy, its satellites and gravitational potential, as well as our galactic neighbors and the nearby dark matter distribution. MPIA Project Leads: Hans-Walter Rix and Nicolas Martin. [more]
Key Project 10 - the study of AGNs and quasars at large cosmic distances, which translates into probing the early Universe less than a billion years after the Big Bang. MPIA Project Lead: Fabian Walter. [more]

Science Results

Among the significant scientific results that capitalized on the strengths of the Pan-STARRS1 survey are the discovery of extremely distant quasars and the first complete mapping of the Monoceros stream—a tidal stellar stream that (almost fully) wraps around the Milky Way. In addition, Pan-STARRS1 led to a significant increase in the number of known brown dwarfs and a much better characterization of low-mass star formation in stellar clusters. Although the survey operations were completed, the data collected are still being studied and are currently producing ground-breaking scientific results, such the discovery of the Ophiuchus tidal stellar stream, the creation of a 3D dust map of the Milky Way, and the detection of a dust ring in the Orion star-forming region. Pan-STARRS1 is also living up to its promise as a northern-hemisphere “target finder” survey to enable follow-up studies using MPIA’s and other observing facilities.

Data Release

All of the data, images, and catalogs taken by Pan-STARRS1 for the Pan-STARRS1 Science Mission, which is funded by the member institutions of the PS1SC, will become public in March 2015. 

Further reading:

The partner institutions of the Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium (PS1SC) are University of Hawaiʻi-Institute for Astronomy (IfA), Max-Planck-Institiut für Astronomie (MPIA), Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestriche Physik (MPE), Johns Hopkins University (JHU)-Department of Physics and Astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Queen's University Belfast (QUB)-Astrophysics Research Center, National Central University (NCU)-Graduate Institute of Astronomy, Durham University-Extragalactic and Cosmology Group and Institute for Computational Cosmology, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT), University of Edinburgh-Institute for Astronomy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-Near Earth Object Program, National Science Foundation (NSF)-Grant No. AST-1238877, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), University of Maryland, Eotvos Lorand University, and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

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