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About the transient catalogue search

Contents


Summary

This service provides an interface to an automatically populated database of newly discovered objects that have been reported in ATELs, or reported via a VOEVENT stream. This allows users to check, for example, whether their newly-detected transient is completely new, or has already been reported by other authors. These tables, described in more detail below, are updated hourly. These do not claim to be perfect, and users are strongly encouraged to read the caveats at the end of this document.

The service was first created in 2011 September: the database/event table is populated with sources detected since this time. The ATEL table has been created from all ATELs.

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Using this service

To search the databases simply enter the position of interest in the box on the search page. This is intended to be free-form and supports most types of sexagesimal/decimal input, the only limit is that coordinates must be in J2000, equatorial format. Object names can also be entered: these will be resolved using SIMBAD. The results from the two tables will be shown consecutively beneath the form, when the search is performed.

We ask that, when used, this service is acknowledged (e.g. by URL in a footnote). In particular, please can the following text be used in the acknowledgements of any papers which made use of this service:

This work made use of data supplied by the UK Swift Science Data Centre at the University of Leicester.

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ATEL table

This table is populated by software which parses every ATEL that is published, searching for anything that looks like a co-ordinate. Matches are then added to the database. This is a challenging process, since ATELs are prosaic and human-written. Therefore it is also an imperfect process. Details of this are given in the caveats (below), but it is strongly advised that you read the ATELs in which any matches are found (a link is provided in the search results) to confirm the matches.

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Database/event table

This table is populated by parsing the latest XMM-Newton Slew Survey discoveries, and by reading the following VOEVENT streams:

Since these feeds are formatted, co-ordinate identification is reliable. However, please still see the caveats (below) due to issues with the streams.

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Caveats/Warnings

Please be aware of the following issues regarding the two tables:

ATEL table
The automatic parsing of the human-written, prosaic ATELs is challenging. Sometimes numbers which are not actually co-ordinates are interpreted as co-ordinates. Similarly, all positions are assumed to be J2000, equatorial co-ordinates, which obviously may not be the case. Therefore, you should read the ATEL to which the search results direct you, to confirm that the position found in the table is indeed correct.
Database/event table
The VOEVENT streams that have been parsed since 2011 were provided by the skyalert.org facility. However, as of 2014 November, this facility has been offline. We are in the process of establishing alternative sources of these feeds. This documentation will be updated when that is done.

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Changelog

Changes since this service was launched in 2015 October will be logged here.