RAVE – the Radial Velocity Experiment

Comparison of radial velocities from Gaia DR2 and RAVE DR5 is looking good. The diagram shows the difference between the RAVE and Gaia radial velocities weighted by their common uncertainty. The two-component Gaussian curve (one for single stars and the other for binary stars) fits the distribution very well. The narrower single star component shows an offset of about 0.37 km/s between the datasets.

RAVE spectra with problematic radial velocity measurements

Based on the comparison between RAVE and Gaia DR2 radial velocity measurements we have identified 707 spectra in the DR5 database for which RAVE radial velocities are systematically offset. The list of these spectra is available here:

We ask everyone using this dataset to also exclude it if it is part of your analysis.

A report on the origin of this problem can be found here.

Crossmatch table RAVE DR5 and Gaia DR2 gaia_source available


The paper describing the release is here:
The Radial Velocity Experiment (RAVE): Fifth Data Release
RAVE DR5 data

Note: The crossmatch of TGAS with RAVE is included in RAVE_DR5.


Screenshot from a movie for flying through the RAVE stars from Data Release 5: mp4 [35 MB].

Read more and see other versions at the Movies page.

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.


Of all the spectroscopic surveys, RAVE has the largest overlap with the Tycho-Gaia astrometric solution catalogue — 249,603 spectra of 215,590 unique TGAS stars.


  • RAVE DR5: 520701 spectra, 457555 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: 5


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, PI of RAVE is Matthias Steinmetz.

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.

During the observation campaign from 2003 to 2013, RAVE has amassed 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.

RAVE Publications

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.