Astronomers on Thursday released new data of the brightness histories of a total of 200 million stars and other celestial objects which amounted to over 20 billion independent measurements.

The data was collected using the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey, which allowed astronomers to systematically scan the skies for dynamic objects like asteroids. It will enable scientists worldwide to pursue new research in the astronomical community, researchers said.

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona said that one of the unique features of their survey is that it emphasizes an open-data discovery.

"We discover transient events and publish them electronically in real time, so that anyone can follow them and make additional discoveries," Andrew Drake, a staff scientist at Caltech and lead author on a poster to be presented at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin on Thursday said in a statement.

The data is based on observations taken with the 0.7-meter telescope on Mt. Bigelow in Arizona by repeatedly taking pictures of large portions of the sky and comparing images to previous ones, after which the CRTS monitors the brightness of about half a billion objects allowing it to identify those that dramatically brighten or dim.

The data set consists of information about more than a thousand exploding stars known as supernovae, hundreds of so-called cataclysmic variables which are pairs of stars in which one drops matter onto another known as the white dwarf, tens of thousands of dwarf novae which are binary stars with dramatic change in brightness.

"We take hundreds of images every night from each of our telescopes as we search for hazardous asteroids," adds Edward Beshore, principal investigator of the University of Arizona's asteroid-hunting Catalina Sky Survey

The Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey data include information on the location, discovery date, observation time and links to image data. The data collected provides grainy black and white images of the stars.