The virtual observatory
The international initiative «Virtual Observatory» emerged from the need to exploit the huge amount of data produced by both ground and space based observational programmes; its volume has increased enormously as a consequence of the implementation of new technologies.
The Virtual Observatory (VO) has thus has become an inescapable framework for organizing data bases and services, through the standardisation of data structures and access protocoles; it constitutes an answer to the challenge posed by the management of large quantities of data, their analysis and distribution.
This integration within a standardised framework enables different systems to communicated, i.e. to have system interoperability. The user can thus correlate in a transparent way, and use generic tools, for data coming from different sources. These possibilities have opened new horizons in astronomical research.
The evolution of the VO, at an international level, on which is based the development of the Observatoire de Paris, takes place within the framework of the IVOA (International Virtual Observatory Alliance), in which expertise is shared, and are discussed and formalised the OV standards.
This initiative at the Observatoire de Paris is organised within the framework of the expertise centre Paris Data Centre/OV-Paris, in which are involved teams of scientists and engineers from all the laboratories and also from the computing division. A web server describes its activities. A web portal has also been developed by VO-Paris; from it, various data sets available at the Observatory and its various partners can be accessed.