Some questions answered What is VSX? Why was it created? Who is responsible? Who uses VSX? What were the requirements? How does it work? How are the data vetted? What data are in VSX? What are the future plans for VSX? What is covered in this talk?
The International V ariable S tar Inde X A comprehensive relational database of known and suspected variable stars gathered from a variety of respected published sources and made available through a powerful Web interface which provides the tools for visitors to search and view the data, registered users to revise and add to the data, and authorized moderators to vet the data, creating a consistently reliable living catalog of the most accurate and up-to-date information available on variable stars. What is VSX?
The big ideas A central Web-accessible repository for up-to-the-minute information on all known and suspected variable stars from a variety of sources A powerful application for searching, viewing, correcting, augmenting and managing variable star data A method for publishing new variable stars that is simpler and faster than submitting a formal paper A reliable way for getting the latest scientific findings into a comprehensive peer-reviewed catalog that is immediately made available to the public A simple and intuitive interface for data mining A full-featured portal to a wide variety of external resources What is VSX?
The seeds of a concept Discussions between AAVSO staff, volunteers and observers The sorry state of affairs in the cataloging of variable stars The pace at which names are assigned and updates released The absence of a central store for the growing mass of data The resource limitations of AAVSO and other organizations The abundance of willing and able volunteers The availability of no-lo-cost open source development solutions My strong personal interest in creating such a resource AAVSO committee formed to investigate variable star registry Why was it created?
Christopher Watson Original concept and Principal Architect AAVSO Sponsorship, web and database hosting, technical support Consultants Who is responsible? James Bedient Bill Gray John Greaves Arne Henden Geert Hoogeveen Richard Huziak Sebastian Otero Vance Petriew Aaron Price Brian Skiff Mike Simonsen Patrick Wils
The casual visitor Search the database for information on variable stars Use the Web site as a convenient portal to external resources The registered user Submit revisions to existing stars in the database Submit data for new variable star discoveries Add cross-ids, comments and supporting documents The authorized moderator Review and assign status to submissions made by users Communicate with users regarding contributions Who uses VSX?
For the casual visitor Acquire data from the most significant variable star catalogs Provide customizable form-based searching of the data Provide several different search methods Display concise search results and detailed views of the data Provide links to object-specific data held at external resources Download and display DSS images for any database object Display a history of the revisions made to any database object Provide forms for registering and creating a system login Provide adequate and useful on-line help Provide an enjoyable user experience What were the requirements?
For the registered user Provide a method for submitting revisions to existing data Provide a simple process for submitting new variable stars Outwardly display credit for discoveries Auto-generate IAU designations ( VSX J234004.1+123800 ) Implement automated e-mail notification of actions taken Allow commentary to be submitted for any object Permit upload, storage and linking of supporting documents Provide a way to add new cross-identifications to any object Afford secure access to user profile and login information What were the requirements?
For the authorized moderator Provide authenticated access to specialized vetting tools Provide highly-visible notice of any queued submissions Display concise lists of revisions, additions, cross-ids and files Clearly display data differences between revision levels Allow for basic editing of submitted data prior to approval Provide simple status change and data relocation interface Allow for rollback to previous revision levels, if necessary Automate the generation of notification e-mails Make the interface intuitive and easy to work with What were the requirements?
Behind the scenes Submitted revisions, additions, cross-ids and files are staged and are not immediately made available to the public Staged submissions are reviewed by authorized moderators, and may be edited as required for clarity, or to correct obvious errors Web tools available only to moderators provide an efficient interface for quickly evaluating the changes made in revisions and data provided in other types of submissions Once approved, the submitted data (along with any associated docs) are moved by the system to the public index automatically Rejected submissions may be corrected and resubmitted by the originator, accompanied by system-generated e-mail notifications Revision levels are maintained, so any revision may be rolled back if subsequently found to be erroneous or unsupported How are the data vetted?
10 May 2006 launch data Combined General Catalog of Variable Stars (GCVS 4.2, online) All notes, references, and cross-identifications from GCVS New Catalog of Suspected Variable Stars (NSV, NSV Supplement) All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS-3) Catalog of Variable Stars Red variables from The Northern Sky Variability Survey (NSVS) Contact and near-contact binaries from NSVS Information Bulletin on Variable Stars (IBVS) New variable stars discovered from offered images to the MISAO Project Miras and EBs from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) Bright contact and near-contact binaries from ROTSE Downes et al. Catalog of Cataclysmic Variables (2006 Archival) Total of 133,569 variables and suspects What data are in VSX?
A look ahead Shepherd the maturation of the database Import other variable star catalogs Work toward primary record model (long-term) Further enhance and streamline user interface Integrate more powerful moderator tools Collect user feedback and track issues Implement frequently requested features Periodically publish lists of revisions and additions What are the future plans?
Wrapping it up VSX is a living, growing database of variable stars Sponsored by the AAVSO Seeded with data from some of the best existing catalogs Eventually holding data for every known variable star Data is searchable by anyone via the Web Basic data may be revised by registered users New discoveries may be added to the database Supporting documents and comments may be stored for any star A complete revision history is available for every star Submissions continually reviewed by authorized moderators Attractive and simple user interface makes it fun!