NASA”s ‘Disk Detective’ Invites You to Help Astronomers Classify Embryonic Planetary Systems

To determine which young planetary systems to study closer with the Hubble Space Telescope and in a few years time its successor the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) 

Herbig-Haro 30 is the prototype of a gas-rich young stellar object disk. The dark disk spans 40 billion miles in this image, cutting the bright nebula in two and blocking the central star from direct view. Volunteers can help astronomers find more disks like this through DiskDetective.org. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/C. Burrows (STScI)
Herbig-Haro 30 is the prototype of a gas-rich young stellar object disk. The dark disk spans 40 billion miles in this image, cutting the bright nebula in two and blocking the central star from direct view. Volunteers can help astronomers find more disks like this through DiskDetective.org.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/C. Burrows (STScI)

Space news (NASA crowdsourcing projects: Disk Detective.org; help discover new planetary nurseries) – scanning over 745 million stellar objects across the cosmos looking for new planet nurseries to study – 

The large disk of gas surrounding Fomalhaut is clearly visible in this image. It is not centred on Fomalhaut quite as predicted, hinting that the gravity of another body – perhaps a planet – is pulling it out of shape.
Debris disks, such as this one around the bright star Fomalhaut, tend to be older than 5 million years, possess little or no gas, and contain belts of rocky or icy debris that resemble the asteroid and Kuiper belts found in our own solar system. The radial streaks are scattered starlight. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/UC Berkeley/Goddard/LLNL/JPL
NASA invites all peoples to join the human journey to the beginning of space and time by helping astronomers discover new planetary systems by joining their largest crowd-sourcing project to date Disk Detective. Volunteers view brief animations of stellar objects called flip books and then classify each object based on simple criteria. This simple classification system helps astronomers determine which objects, from around 500,000, they need to have a closer look at to see if it might be a planetary nursery.  

“Through Disk Detective, volunteers will help the astronomical community discover new planetary nurseries that will become future targets for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope,” said James Garvin, the chief scientist for NASA Goddard’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate. 

Projected to launch in 2018, JWST is an infrared telescope that will observe the early universe, between one million and a few billion years in age. Credit: NASA
Projected to launch in 2018, JWST is an infrared telescope that will observe the early universe, between one million and a few billion years in age.
Credit: NASA

The objects volunteers help classify were originally narrowed down from around 345 million initially identified by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) during a survey of the entire sky between 2010 and 2011. Astronomers used computers to search through WISE data to find the objects volunteers classify through this citizen science initiative to identify more planetary nurseries for astronomers to study. 

“Planets form and grow within disks of gas, dust and icy grains that surround young stars, but many details about the process still elude us,” said Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “We need more examples of planet-forming habitats to better understand how planets grow and mature.”

DiskDetective with P.I. Marc Kuchner, and James Garvin, Goddard Chief Scientist, NASA/GSFC
DiskDetective with P.I. Marc Kuchner, and James Garvin, Goddard Chief Scientist, NASA/GSFC Marc Kuchner, the principal investigator for DiskDetective.org (left) and James Garvin, the chief scientist for NASA Goddard’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate, discuss the crowdsourcing project in front of the hyperwall at Goddard’s Sciece Visualization Lab. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/David Friedlander

Join today!

NASA needs your help. You can check out DiskDetective.org to get a better idea of the requirements of taking part in this citizen science initiative. The interface used is relatively user-friendly, but the instructions were excellent, so you shouldn’t have any trouble. Just follow the instructions provided. This is your chance to join the human journey to the beginning of space and time. 

“Disk Detective’s simple and engaging interface allows volunteers from all over the world to participate in cutting-edge astronomy research that wouldn’t even be possible without their efforts,” said Laura Whyte, director of citizen science at Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Ill., a founding partner of the Zooniverse collaboration. 

Read about NASA’s recent selection of five American aerospace firms to study Mars orbiter concepts.

Learn more about NASA’s selection of seven American university teams to design and engineer space habitat prototypes.

Read and learn more about NASA’s selection of eight teams of ambitious young university students to design space habitats for colonizers heading to Mars.

Join NASA’s voyage through the cosmos here

Check out DiskDetective.org

Discover the Hubble Space Telescope here

Learn more about the James Webb Space Telescope

Discover NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center here

Learn more about NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

 

MACS 0647-JD could be the most distant galaxy viewed so far during the human journey to the beginning of space and time

Hubble Views Most Distant Galaxy Ever

MACS 0647-JD could be the most distant galaxy viewed so far during the human journey to the beginning of space and time
Astronomers looking at images of MACS 0647-JD believe it’s only about 600 light-years wide

The first galaxies

Astronomy news (November 28, 2013) – The Hubble Space Telescope, along with the light magnifying ability of the effect called gravitational lensing, has provided the first views of the most distant galaxy seen during the human journey to the beginning of space and time. The astronomers of the Cluster Lensing and Supernova Survey with Hubble (CLASH) recently discovered three gravity-lensed images of a galaxy that existed over 13.7 billions years ago taken using Hubble’s new panchromatic imaging capabilities. Designated MACS 0647-JD, this ancient star city is currently the most distant galaxy located to date using the Hubble Space Telescope and gravitational lensing.

Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope and gravitational lensing to look at MACS 0647-JD
Astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to help view MACS 0647-JD

The CLASH program

The astronomers of CLASH used the Hubble Space Telescope to look at 25 distant galaxy clusters during the period from November 2010 to July 2013. They were looking for light which had been magnified due to the effect known as gravitational lensing as predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. They wanted to detect additional Type Ia supernovae, map the distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters, detect the most distant galaxies ever and study the internal structure and evolution of the galaxies in and behind these clusters.

The three gravity-lensed images taken by Hubble are of a small galaxy, now designated MACS 0647-JD, which could have been one of the first galaxies to exist in the universe. Astronomers’ analysis of the images suggests this small galaxy was less than 600 light-years across, which may indicate it was in the first stages of galaxy formation. In fact, this smaller galaxy may have been just one building block in the construction of a larger galaxy, and during the past 13.7 billions years could have been part of dozens, hundreds and even thousands of merging events with other galaxies.

Astronomers look at other possibilities

The astronomers of the Cluster Lensing and Supernova Survey with Hubble recently used the ability of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to help rule out other possible identities of the three images they found. Next, astronomers will use the Spitzer Space Telescope, and other telescopes, to confirm the existence of the galaxy and try to get a better estimate of its age.

Astronomers hope to use the data they obtain from the study of galaxies like MACS 0647-JD to learn more about the early universe
Astronomers hope to use the James Webb Space Telescope to look even further back in time and space

Can NASA astronomers detect extraterrestrial moons orbiting distant suns? Read this article to find out https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/searching-for-extraterrestrial-moons/.

Read about the latest discovery in the search for life beyond Earth https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/the-search-for-life-beyond-earth-takes-a-turn-at-jupiter/.

Read about the latest images of the solar system sent back by the Cassini spacecraft https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/cassini-spacecraft-show-views-of-the-solar-system-in-natural-color/.