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Updates on VSX

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stellakafka's picture
Updates on VSX



VSX is an essential part of our work, and we are trying to make it the best it can. As we are trying to include information from as many catalogues possible, one of our main challenge is to deal with variables in crowded fields, stars of interest with close companions, objects that are embedded in star clusters and provide accurate coordinates for those stars. As surveys do not always provide accurate positions for stars, the VSX team sometimes struggle with having to identify the right object while cross-correlating our catalogue with the ones provided by survey teams. This can be a manual process, and it requires attention to detail, determination and a fair amount of detective work.


Over the last years, the VSX team painstakingly went through all ~400,000 current VSX records, trying to eliminate duplicate and false entries. As part of this procedure, 4,143 records were removed from the active VSX catalogue; we now have 397,597entries. This is always a work in progress and I am sure that we will have to always keep an eye on “problem” star fields with higher density of stars. At the same time, thanks to the team’s hard work, VSX is as “clean” as it can be, and ready to accommodate new discoveries from your telescopes and your student’s work. All credit goes to Sebastian Otero, Patrick Wills and Chris Watson, who have been working hard to come up with new solutions to old problems, and device strategies on how we’ll be dealing with the influx of information from upcoming surveys.

Best wishes - clear skies,


pukemaru's picture
Updates on VSX

Thanks, TEAM. A week seldom goes by without me consulting VSX. Your efforts are truly appreciated.

Stephen [HSP]
New Zealand.

pox's picture
amen to that! I can keep the

amen to that! I can keep the YSO list up to date by using VSX.

huziak's picture
VSX entry publication

Hi Stella,

Thanks for the update and thanks to Seb, Pat, Chris and others involved in the enormous task.  A perpetual question that I've had about VSX is whether or not submitted new discoveries and corrections will ever be officially "published" en masse in the form of something like the IBVS Namelist?  Although those familiar with the ever-improving data in VSX trust it implicitly, doesn't actual publication then legitimize it in the astronomical community?


Sebastian Otero
Sebastian Otero's picture
VSX and publication

Hi Rick,

I have to say that I don't think that's part of the VSX scope. I could say "yes, eventually" but these years have demonstrated that the task of keeping VSX up to date is not trivial and involves a lot of time and resources.
VSX is not meant to be a publication venue, but it has become a popular way of making discoveries public. The number of users submitting new stars and corrections keeps growing.
We require supporting evidence and make a thorough review of any of the stars submitted but even then, it is easier to submit a star to VSX than publishing it in a journal, keeping in mind that most journals won't accept individual data-mining results without a deeper analysis.
So there are groups and individuals who choose VSX to submit their discoveries.

Since objects submitted to VSX won't receive a GCVS designation just because they are published in a list, I don't see much value in such a publication. The Name Lists you mentioned are published by the GCVS team with the new names they assigned to stars already published in the literature. It is a different thing.
And nowadays all the naming business is becoming obsolete. We have hundreds of different catalogue names in our database. The flood of information is huge and I don't think names are that important anyway. We struggle to update the information and be as complete as possible.
Now, if you want your star to get a GCVS designation, well, you should publish it in a journal and wait.

However, it's been several years since VizieR hosts a VSX catalogue version which is updated every Monday. This means that the stars published through VSX are listed in any VizieR positional search along with the results from other catalogues. So all stars that have only been submitted to VSX are also searchable using VizieR, it is not that they can't be found anywhere else.

As time went by, VSX has become a must-go for anyone looking for variable star information so if you are checking if a star is variable, there is no excuse not to make a VSX search (or a VizieR search) so I don't think that there is a real need of such an additional publication.

Others can disagree, of course!


clkotnik's picture
VizieR Updates of VSX


I just want to make sure I understand the VizieR access of VSX.  Are you saying that the update to VizieR happens every week?



Sebastian Otero
Sebastian Otero's picture
VizieR weekly update

Yes, Cliff, you are right.

There are some weeks when the update is not made for some reason but usually every monday 0.00 UT the current version of VSX is uploaded to VizieR.


clkotnik's picture
Great News

For a number of reasons, accessing VSX via the astroquery VizieR interface is a good approach for me.  However, I was afraid it would be months between updates.  Weekly is certainly good enough for what I am doing.



clkotnik's picture
Exoplanet False Positives

While participating in the KELT follow-up, I started searching VSX for near by variables in VSX.  I found that in some cases, VSX contained an EB with the predicted period of the candidate exoplanet.  This can eliminate the need for a long time series observing session.

I made the KELT team aware of this.  Josh Pepper from the KELT project replied "When we started the KELT project, VSX and the other variability catalogs were not complete or reliable enough to make that kind of checking worthwhile, but maybe it is something we should revisit.".  Within a matter of hours, a link to VSX was added to the KELT transit finder so we can now just click to see the nearby variables for upcoming transit events.  And a few hours later the TESS team requested the same sort of link.


best regards,


Sebastian Otero
Sebastian Otero's picture

Thanks Cliff to spread the word about VSX and let us know that our database is being used as it deserves.
We keep doing our best to keep it up to date and as free from mistakes as possible. Right now I am working on thousands of revisions to be uploaded soon. This includes some wrong identifications we inherited from the initial catalogues population and that now can be corrected due to the availabiity of new resources such as ASAS-SN, APASS, CRTS, etc.

Best wishes,

mishnik's picture
There are no link.  

There are no link.


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