A Cal Poly Pomona professor is giving everyone with access to a computer the chance to help explore our galaxy.
Physics and astronomy Professor Matthew Povich is unveiling a revamped website for the Milky Way Project, a crowd-sourced effort that uses citizen scientists to identify objects in imagery of the Milky Way Galaxy taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope over the past 12 years.
The volunteers sift through imagery looking for objects types with names like bubble, bow shock driving star and yellowball. When they think they’ve found one, they draw a circle around it. Those circles are like a highlighter, helping Povich and his colleagues focus on analyzing specific areas of the imagery.
Povich first launched the project in spring of 2015. The relaunch is intended to bolster their data collection efforts.
“We need an additional 2 million classifications to achieve our current science goals,” says Povich. “If every one of the 20,000 students at Cal Poly Pomona logged onto our site and made 100 classifications each, we’d be done in no time.”
Physics student Tharindu Jayasinghe is analyzing data from the project for his senior thesis.
“Having everyone joining us in the hunt for amazing astrophysical data makes this project more meaningful,” he says.