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Paper: Virtual Observatory: What Is It and How Can It Help Me?
Volume: 349, Astrophysics of Variable Stars
Page: 29
Authors: Solano, E.
Abstract: The advances in technology (telescope design and fabrication, large-scale detector arrays, computing capabilities) are permitting for the first time to explore the Universe in a multi-parameter space. Although this situation should potentially lead to a more complete and less biased understanding of complex astrophysical phenomena, the reality is that the progress in the scientific exploitation is not keeping pace with the exponential growth of data. Two are the major limiting factors: The absence of a real interoperability among astronomical archives and the lack of scalability in the classical methods of retrieving and analyzing astronomical data to tackle the new vast datasets.
The Virtual Observatory (VO, is an international project aiming at solving this situation by: a) the creation of a federation of astronomical archives that, with the implementation of new technologies and standards, provides an easy and efficient access to the astronomical data (“data grid”). b) the development and implementation of analysis tools by the data centres holding the data (“service grid”). Data mining, as a way to perform an efficient and systematic study of the vast amount of information that will be available from the future federation of astronomical archives, constitutes one of the key activities for the Virtual Observatory where the greatest scientific benefits are expected to come from.
Although VO is an emerging project still in its developing phase (the phase-A of the major contributors to the VO started in 2001), it is already considered both from the technical and scientific point of view a basic requirement for the astrophysical research and the framework where to settle in the short-term the astronomical archive-related activities. The biggest data providers (NASA, ESA, ESO, ...) have understood the importance of this initiative and are already displaying their contents under the VO requirements.
In this presentation I will describe some of the work areas that are presently being developed in the context of IVOA (International Virtual Observatory Alliance, and the impact they will have in the astrophysical research.
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