AI Created a Detailed 3D Map of Stars, Galaxies, and Quasars

Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawai’i

Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawai’i
Image: University of Hawai’i

A team of astronomers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA) has produced the most comprehensive astronomical imaging catalog of stars, galaxies, and quasars ever created with help from an artificially intelligent neural network.

The group of astronomers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA) released a catalog containing 3 billion celestial objects in 2016, including stars, galaxies, and quasars (the active cores of supermassive black holes). Needless to say, the parsing of this extensive database—packed with 2 petabytes of data—was a task unfit for puny humans, and even grad students. A major goal coming out of the 2016 catalog release was to better characterize these distant specks of light, and to also map the arrangement of galaxies in all three dimensions. The Pan-STARRS team can now check these items off their

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New Drought Monitor map shows extreme dry conditions growing in Calif.

The new federal Drought Monitor map shows that localized drought conditions are increasing in Northern California.

The Sept. 22 map had 3% of the state in extreme drought while the Sept. 29 map released Thursday shows 13%.

In the Bay Area, the map reveals that drought conditions range from moderate to severe.

The Drought Monitor, a mechanism to measure drought that’s mainly used in agriculture, is a joint effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A map is released each week with drought conditions across the country, indexing everything from groundwater storage to river levels. The factors California state water managers watch most closely are precipitation totals and reservoir and snowpack levels.

The presence of drought on the map is no surprise — especially in Northern California. While Southern California saw above-average rainfall

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