The astronomy projects for this initiative were focused on observations of galaxy bars using Hubble data, and supernovae using the Gaia mission. These projects were carried out using Zooniverse.

Precursor Supernovae Pilot

Our supernovae pilot worked with BBC Stargazing Live in order to identify supernovae.  These supernovae events can get so bright that they outshine their host galaxies for a few days or weeks. Discovering a certain type of supernova allows astronomers to refine their measurements of many fundamental parameters of the Universe, such as its age.

The pilot was launched during BBC Stargazing live in March 2015. Volunteers were asked to help identify supernovae from various pictures of the night sky. Tens of thousands of volunteers joined and helped to makeover 1million classifications within the first few days of launch, with the first supernova being identified within the first few hours of launch. This supernova only took 23 hours from discovery to publication.

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Hubble – Galaxy Bar lengths

A galatic bar is a linear structure of stars (i.e. light) stretching across the central regions of a disc galaxy. Stellar bars reveal a set of very elongated orbits of stars in the disc of a galaxy. In particular, the length and width of a bar should be related to how old it is, so by collecting that information we can look at the time evolution of bars in different types of galaxies. Bars usually share a common center with the galaxy disc, but not always.

Sometimes the disc is very disturbed or is sloshing around the bar, so that in a snapshot the bar appears to be offset from the centre of the disc.

In this project we used the help citizen scientists to identify galatic bars and their detailed properties.

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Gaia – Identifying Supernovae

Gaia is a groundbreaking ESA mission that will advance our understanding of how our galaxy and similar galaxies formed  and evolved. It plans to chart one billion stars in the Milky Way, but will also  capture  the transient  light from exploding  stars  in distant galaxies.

On 12th September 2014, Gaia discovered its first type 1a supernova, a particular form of intensely bright explosion that can be  used to  precisely  measure the  expansion  of  the  Universe.

The  detection of supernova requires  advanced pattern recognition ability, very well suited to humans. This project searched for such an explosion among a billion stars, and helped to refine future measurements of the age, expansion & basic properties of the Universe.

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