Sky Context

There are already a large number of astronomical catalogues, each containing carefully curated data about astronomical objects: stars, galaxies, variable stars, cataclysmic variables, active galactic nuclei, etc. When an existing object brightens, or a new object appears, astronomers want to know if it is already known, and if so, what kind of object it is. If the astronomer is searching for extra-galactic explosive events such as supernovae, they are usually associated with a galaxy. That astronomer is also interested if the explosive event has already been seen and registered by somebody else.

Lasair provides several kinds of sky context:

  • Sherlock: A software package and integrated massive database system that provides a rapid and reliable spatial cross-match service for any astrophysical variable or transient. Details here.

  • Transient Name Server (TNS) is the official IAU mechanism for reporting new astronomical transients such as supernova candidates. Once spectroscopically confirmed, new supernova discoveries are officially designated a SN name. Lasair keeps a cache of the database, updated every few hours. Details here.

  • Personal Watchlists: Lasair allows users to upload personal catalogues of interesting sources, which are crossmatched in real time with incoming alerts.