Virtual observatory prototype produces surprise discovery

A new approach to finding undiscovered objects buried in immense astronomical databases has produced an early and unexpected payoff: a new instance of a hard-to-find type of star known as a brown dwarf. Scientists working to create the National Virtual Observatory (NVO), an online portal for astronomical research unifying dozens of large astronomical databases, confirmed discovery of the new brown dwarf recently. The star emerged from a computerized search of information on millions of astronomical objects in two separate astronomical databases. Thanks to an NVO prototype, that search, formerly an endeavor requiring weeks or months of human attention, took approximately two minutes.