RAVE – the Radial Velocity Experiment

RAVE is to date one of the largest spectroscopic surveys of Milky Way stars available to the community. It enables to study the Milky Way morphology and history through stellar spectroscopic observations combined with astrometric databases.  Astrometry is giving positions and proper motions of stars. Spectroscopy allows to measure the stellar atmospheric parameters, individual chemical abundances and radial velocities and therefore, to fully define the motion of stars in the Galaxy.

  • 2003-2013: 574,630 spectra; 483,330 stars
  • accuracy of velocity determination ~1.5 km/s
  • derived stellar parameters: effective temperature (Teff), surface gravity (logg), metallicity ([M/H])
  • accuracy of distance estimates: ~20%
  • accuracy of elemental abundances ([Fe/H] and 6 α-elements) ~0.2 dex
  • Number of Data-releases: 4
  • Next data-release: planned for 2016


RAVE (RAdial Velocity Experiment) is a multi-fiber spectroscopic astronomical survey of stars in the Milky Way using the 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope of the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO). The RAVE collaboration consists of researchers from over 20 institutions around the world and is coordinated by the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam.

Radial velocities of RAVE stars

Distribution of RAVE stars on the sky, colour-coded by stellar heliocentric velocity. See this RAVE 3D movie for a flight through their 3D distribution.

As a southern hemisphere survey covering 20,000 square degrees of the sky, RAVE’s primary aim is to derive the radial velocity of stars from the observed spectra. Additional information is also derived such as effective temperature, surface gravity, metallicity, photometric parallax and elemental abundance data for the stars. The survey represents a giant leap forward in our understanding of our own Milky Way galaxy; with RAVE’s vast stellar kinematic database the structure, formation and evolution of our Galaxy can be studied.

From 2003 to 2013 (end of observation campaign), RAVE has obtained 574,630 spectra of 483,330 unique stars in the magnitude range 8 < I < 12 mag. This represents stellar distances up to ∼ 3 kpc from the Sun. The covered spectral region (8410–8794 Å) contains the infrared Calcium triplet and is similar to the wavelength range chosen for Gaia’s Radial Velocity Spectrometer. The effective resolution of R = λ/∆λ ∼ 7, 000 enables us to measure line-of-sight velocities with a median precision better than 1.5 km/s, as well as good precision atmospheric parameters and chemical abundances for the surveyed stars.

Learn more about the RAVE project …

Database access

The RAVE database can be queried by entering SQL statements directly into the Query Form. If you haven’t done so, please register first via the Registration Form to get your own private database where the results of your queries will be stored for you.

For your convenience you can find database dumps of the publicly available tables in csv format under Downloads.