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Paper: Chapter 18: Web-based Tools—NED VO Services
Volume: 382, The National Virtual Observatory: Tools and Techniques for Astronomical Research
Page: 165
Authors: Mazzarella, J.M.; the NED Team
Abstract: The NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) is a thematic, web-based research facility in widespread use by scientists, educators, space missions, and observatory operations for observation planning, data analysis, discovery, and publication of research about objects beyond our Milky Way galaxy. NED is a portal into a systematic fusion of data from hundreds of sky surveys and tens of thousands of research publications. The contents and services span the entire electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays through radio frequencies, and are continuously updated to reflect the current literature and releases of large-scale sky survey catalogs. NED has been on the Internet since 1990, growing in content, automation and services with the evolution of information technology. NED is the world‛s largest database of crossidentified extragalactic objects. As of December 2006, the system contains approximately 10 million objects and 15 million multi-wavelength cross-IDs. Over 4 thousand catalogs and published lists covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum have had their objects cross-identified or associated, with fundamental data parameters federated for convenient queries and retrieval.

This chapter describes the interoperability of NED services with other components of the Virtual Observatory (VO). Section 1 is a brief overview of the primary NED web services. Section 2 provides a tutorial for using NED services currently available through the NVO Registry. The “name resolver” provides VO portals and related internet services with celestial coordinates for objects specified by catalog identifier (name); any alias can be queried because this service is based on the source cross-IDs established by NED. All major services have been updated to provide output in VOTable (XML) format that can be accessed directly from the NED web interface or using the NVO registry. These include access to images via SIAP, Cone- Search queries, and services providing fundamental, multi-wavelength extragalactic data such as positions, redshifts, photometry and spectral energy distributions (SEDs), and sizes (all with references and uncertainties when available). Section 3 summarizes the advantages of accessing the NED “name resolver” and other NED services via the web to replace the legacy “server mode” custom data structure previously available through a function library provided only in the C programming language. Section 4 illustrates visualization via VOPlot of an SED and the spatial distribution of sources from a NED All-Sky (By Parameters) query. Section 5 describes the new NED Spectral Archive, illustrating how VOTables are being used to standardize the data and metadata as well as the physical units of spectra made available by authors of journal articles and producers of major survey archives; quick-look spectral analysis through convenient interoperability with the SpecView (STScI) Java applet is also shown. Section 6 closes with a summary of the capabilities described herein, which greatly simplify interoperability of NED with other components of the VO, enabling new opportunities for discovery, visualization, and analysis of multiwavelength data.

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