Help Galaxy Zoo find supernovae

by Eric on August 14, 2009

I just received this in the mail from the folks at Galaxy Zoo. They’re asking for help in finding supernovae:

Can we ask for your help once again? This time, not only are we
classifying galaxies, but we’re hunting supernovae : exploding stars.
Images of likely supernova candidates captured by a telescope in
California are being fed to our website at . Astronomers are standing by in the
Canary Islands to follow up on the most exciting possibilities, but
first we need your help to decide where to point the telescope. Please
take the time to go to the site, read the tutorial – and then start

Unfortunately, the link leads to a page indicating that the Galaxy Zoo Supernovae is “closed for a while.” According to a blog posting by Arfon Smith, the Technical Lead for Galaxy Zoo, Galaxy Zoo 2 works from a relatively static set of assets, while Supernova Zoo is pulling down assets from the Palomar Transient Factory in near-realtime–a somewhat different challenge.

They’re pleased with the initial results (20 supernovae were found), but they want to rework classification software:

Supernova Zoo was our first opportunity to test the codebase that myself and the team at SIUE have been working hard on for the last few months. Handling a continual stream of new Assets and changing the behaviour of the system in real time based on your classifications has been a fun challenge and overall we’re pretty happy with the results.
In the next day Supernova Zoo will be taken offline so that we can have a good look at the results from the past few days. Based upon your excellent feedback there will almost certainly be some tweaks to the classification interface and refinements to the decision tree. Supernova hunting is a very different challenge to galaxy classification and we’re delighted that our Zooites appear to equally adept at classifying galaxy morphologies as finding new supernovae!

So sign up for Galaxy Zoo 2, and get ready for the next opportunity to hunt for supernovae!

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