At the end of February the first data from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program (HSC-SSP) were released to the public. It’s a kind of cosmic census created using a large digital camera installed on the Subaru Telescope. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) developed a dedicated database and interface to use the wealth of data collected. One hope is to be closer to understand the fate of the universe.
The first HSC-SSP survey data contain almost a hundred million galaxies and stars and were collected over more than a year and a half. The images were captured at optical and near infrared wavelengths in various bands. A comparable survey such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) took 10 years of observations to obtain an equivalent set of data.
Over time various astronomical surveys were carried out that created some kind of census and catalog of celestial bodies and others are in the process of data collection. Depending on the instruments used and the width of the covered sky, the various surveys can be especially useful for certain purposes.
In the case of the HSC-SSP survey, there’s a particular interest regarding some cosmological investigations but in the end the collected data can be very useful for very different types of research. The data collected can also be used together with those collected by other instruments and in other investigations.
Professor Satoshi Miyazaki of NAOJ, leader of the HSC-SSP survey, stated that he and his colleagues believe that the release of the data will lead to many exciting astronomical results citing the exploration of the nature of dark matter and dark energy as well as asteroids in our solar system and galaxies in the early universe.
In essence, this is an investigation that could be very useful for many types of research. One of the most intriguing research is that about the evolution and fate of the universe. For such ambitious studies it’s essential to have the availability of the observations of a large number of celestial bodies on very large distances, exactly what the HSC-SSP survey did.
The release of the first data on a a specific website is just the beginning of a phase of the HSC-SSP survey. A special issue of the journal “Publications of Astronomical Society of Japan” that will contain a series of articles on this scientific program is already schedueld but over time various researches will be conducted based at least in part on its data.