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Chinese mega-telescope obtains data on 7 million stars

Updated: Jul 26,2016 9:19 PM     Xinhua

NANJING — A Chinese telescope has collected data on over 7 million stars, exceeding the sum of all existing spectroscopic data on stars and making it the world’s largest database in the field.

The Guo Shoujing telescope, named after a 13th-century Chinese astronomer, is operated by the National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which recently released the findings.

The telescope has been in use since 2012. It is the world’s first large-area telescope that can observe the spectra of 4,000 stars at a time.

The spectra of stars can relay key information, such as a star’s state of motion, temperature, mass, and chemical composition, according to Hou Yonghui, an astronomical researcher with the CAS.

“Data are paramount for astronomical studies,” said Liu Chao, a fellow researcher with the national observatories. The data gathered by the Guo Shoujing telescope have led to a number of scientific discoveries.

In 2014, scientists used the telescope to discover a hypervelocity star, which are stars that can travel at high speeds to escape the gravity of a galaxy.

Dozens of hypervelocity stars are expected to be discovered after the recent data release, according to astronomers. The telescope also provides data for measuring the mass of “dark matter,” a critical concept in the theoretical study of the universe.

With a larger database thanks to the telescope, measurements of the mass of “dark matter” could become more accurate, according to researchers.

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