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      The Virtual Astronomical Observatory: Re-engineering Access to Astronomical Data

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          Abstract

          The U.S. Virtual Astronomical Observatory was a software infrastructure and development project designed both to begin the establishment of an operational Virtual Observatory (VO) and to provide the U.S. coordination with the international VO effort. The concept of the VO is to provide the means by which an astronomer is able to discover, access, and process data seamlessly, regardless of its physical location. This paper describes the origins of the VAO, including the predecessor efforts within the U.S. National Virtual Observatory, and summarizes its main accomplishments. These accomplishments include the development of both scripting toolkits that allow scientists to incorporate VO data directly into their reduction and analysis environments and high-level science applications for data discovery, integration, analysis, and catalog cross-comparison. Working with the international community, and based on the experience from the software development, the VAO was a major contributor to international standards within the International Virtual Observatory Alliance. The VAO also demonstrated how an operational virtual observatory could be deployed, providing a robust operational environment in which VO services worldwide were routinely checked for aliveness and compliance with international standards. Finally, the VAO engaged in community outreach, developing a comprehensive web site with on-line tutorials, announcements, links to both U.S. and internationally developed tools and services, and exhibits and hands-on training .... All digital products of the VAO Project, including software, documentation, and tutorials, are stored in a repository for community access. The enduring legacy of the VAO is an increasing expectation that new telescopes and facilities incorporate VO capabilities during the design of their data management systems.

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          Most cited references 5

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          Sherpa: a Mission-Independent Data Analysis Application

          The ever-increasing quality and complexity of astronomical data underscores the need for new and powerful data analysis applications. This need has led to the development of Sherpa, a modeling and fitting program in the CIAO software package that enables the analysis of multi-dimensional, multi-wavelength data. In this paper, we present an overview of Sherpa's features, which include: support for a wide variety of input and output data formats, including the new Model Descriptor List (MDL) format; a model language which permits the construction of arbitrarily complex model expressions, including ones representing instrument characteristics; a wide variety of fit statistics and methods of optimization, model comparison, and parameter estimation; multi-dimensional visualization, provided by ChIPS; and new interactive analysis capabilities provided by embedding the S-Lang interpreted scripting language. We conclude by showing example Sherpa analysis sessions.
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            Astronomical network event and observation notification

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              A Cross-Match of 2MASS and SDSS. II. Peculiar L Dwarfs, Unresolved Binaries, and the Space Density of T Dwarf Secondaries

              We present the completion of a program to cross-correlate the SDSS Data Release 1 and 2MASS Point Source Catalog in search for extremely red L and T dwarfs. The program was initiated by Metchev and collaborators, who presented the findings on all newly identified T dwarfs in SDSS DR1, and estimated the space density of isolated T0--T8 dwarfs in the solar neighbourhood. In the current work we present most of the L dwarf discoveries. Our red-sensitive (z-J > 2.75 mag) cross-match proves to be efficient in detecting peculiarly red L dwarfs, adding two new ones, including one of the reddest known L dwarfs. Our search also nets a new peculiarly blue L7 dwarf and, surprisingly, two M8 dwarfs. We further broaden our analysis to detect unresolved binary L or T dwarfs through spectral template fitting to all L and T dwarfs presented here and in the earlier work by Metchev and collaborators. We identify nine probable binaries, six of which are new and eight harbour likely T dwarf secondaries. We combine this result with current knowledge of the mass ratio distribution and frequency of substellar companions to estimate an overall space density of 0.005--0.05 pc^{-3} for individual T0--T8 dwarfs.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                08 April 2015
                Article
                1504.02133

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                Custom metadata
                Abstract abridged for arXiv limit; 23 pages, 15 figures; to appear in a special issue of Astronomy & Computing
                astro-ph.IM

                Instrumentation & Methods for astrophysics

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