Sunday, 19 February 2017

Backyard Worlds: Join Search for Planet Nine, Nearby Brown Dwarfs

A NASA-funded website called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 lets everyone participate in the search for the hypothetical Planet Nine and ‘failed’ stars in the solar neighborhood by viewing brief movies made from images captured by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).“Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 has the potential to unlock once-in-a-century discoveries, and it’s exciting to think they could be spotted first by a citizen scientist,” said Dr. Aaron Meisner, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in analyzing WISE images.
The new website relies on human eyes because we easily recognize the important moving objects while ignoring the artifacts. It’s a modern version of the technique astronomer Clyde Tombaugh used to find Pluto in 1930.
On the website, people around the world can work their way through millions of ‘flipbooks,’ which are brief animations showing how small patches of the sky changed over several years.
Moving objects flagged by participants will be prioritized by the science team for follow-up observations by professional astronomers.
Participants will share credit for their discoveries in any scientific publications that result from the project.
“There are just over 4 light-years between Neptune and Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, and much of this vast territory is unexplored,” said Dr. Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.”-read more

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