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Paper: Chapter 38: Data Models
Volume: 382, The National Virtual Observatory: Tools and Techniques for Astronomical Research
Page: 415
Authors: McDowell, J.C.
Abstract: Modern astronomical datasets are complex in nature, and go well beyond simple images. Both the observational (or simulated) data points and the metadata that describe them are diverse both in structure and in the way they are represented as data files in archives. In particular, astronomers who specialize in different wavebands have adopted different ways of thinking about what is essentially the same data; sometimes these differences are arbitrary and trivial, and sometimes they are driven by real differences in the physics of the object or the instrumentation used in the detection. This complexity and diversity is a barrier to Virtual Observatory interoperability. We would like to allow VO-aware software to process standard data and metadata from any branch of astronomy, and this requires us to define these standards and map them to the representations familiar to the different kinds of astronomer. This is accomplished by the data-modeling process.

The Virtual Observatory data models standardize the structure and information content of metadata (header information) so that the VO and its users can interpret a dataset and its context, no matter what waveband or instrument is being represented. In this chapter we will discuss some of the more general aspects of the VO data model, and examine in detail how these concepts have been utilized in the Spectrum Data Model.

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