New galactic animals on display at Spitzer's Citizen Science Zoo

Dec 17, 2013
A screen shot from the Milky Way Project illustrates how users are asked to catalog objects in our galaxy. Credit: Zooniverse

Since 2010, about 50,000 volunteers have taken to their computers to help astronomers catalog star-blown bubbles captured in images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Their efforts resulted in several scientific papers, and a deeper understanding of our Milky Way galaxy and its frothy star-forming clouds.

Now, an updated version of the campaign, called the Milky Way Project, is releasing more images with a whole new set of "animals" to track in the cosmic zoo. Volunteers are asked to catalog a host of objects, including towering pillars of dust, bow shocks rammed into by speeding stars and even other galaxies hiding behind dust.

"Spitzer has made a hugely detailed survey of our galaxy so expansive you can't take it all in at once," said Robert Hurt, an imaging specialist at NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "This project guarantees that every pixel will be seen by many people. No corner will go unexplored."

The Milky Way Project is part of the Zooniverse group, a collection of online citizen science activities. The idea is to recruit volunteers from all walks of life, all over the world, to help tackle big science problems, and learn something in the process.

The Spitzer images were taken as part of the mission's GLIMPSE project, which stands for Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire. GLIMPSE and its follow-up surveys have mapped out a strip of sky all around us, covering most of our Milky Way galaxy. Spitzer's infrared vision allows it to cut through the dust, unveiling cosmic creatures that remain unseen in visible-light views.

Explore further: Image: Spitzer at 10

More information: www.milkywayproject.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Image: Spitzer at 10

Oct 01, 2013

The infrared observatory Spitzer has been at work for 10 years, revealing the cool dusty regions where stars and planets form, as well as shedding light on planets, exoplanets, stars and galaxies. Spitzer ...

Massive stars mark out Milky Way's 'missing' arms

Dec 17, 2013

A 12-year study of massive stars has reaffirmed that our Galaxy has four spiral arms, following years of debate sparked by images taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope that only showed two arms.

Citizen scientists reveal a bubbly Milky Way

Mar 07, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of volunteers has pored over observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and discovered more than 5,000 "bubbles" in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. Young, hot stars blow these ...

Recommended for you

The frequency of high-energy gamma ray bursts

42 minutes ago

In the 1960s a series of satellites were built as part of Project Vela.  Project Vela was intended to detect violations of the 1963 ban on above ground testing of nuclear weapons.  The Vela satellites were ...

What causes the diffraction spikes in images of stars?

52 minutes ago

When stars are portrayed in media, they are often shown with long spikes emanating from them. Perhaps the most common example is that of the "star of Bethlehem" which, according to the story, led the wise ...

The Great Cold Spot in the cosmic microwave background

Sep 19, 2014

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the thermal afterglow of the primordial fireball we call the big bang. One of the striking features of the CMB is how remarkably uniform it is. Still, there are some ...

User comments : 0