Stars don’t just have to disappear, but countless bright objects that once appeared in the sky in the 1950s are already disappearing.
To try to solve the mystery, scientists have turned to a field known as citizen science, where everyday people from around the world can participate in research projects aimed at answering real scientific questions about our environment. Place or in space. The citizen science project Absent and Visible Sources in the Age of Observations (VASCO), launched in 2017, goes into the archives to see what the archives are like. stars they change.
“In a citizen science project, we compare images from the 1950s with images of the modern sky,” VASCO project principal investigator Beatriz Villarroel, an astrophysicist at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics in Sweden and lead author of a new science paper describing the project, told Space.com in an email. . “The main goal is to identify an object that was clearly visible in several old images but is no longer visible today.”
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Thus, with the project, volunteers examine 150,000 candidate “missing stars”. 2020 education (opens in new tab) To see if objects in 1950s images can be found in modern images. The project examined 15,593 candidate image pairs in the data, or about 10% of all candidates, and identified 798 objects they classified as “missing”.
“Lost” stars can be anything other than a flaring star or another star supernova to the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst.
The research also contributes to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence or SEVEN, also, according to Jamal Mimouni, an astrophysicist at Constantine 1 University in Algeria and co-author of the paper, SETI has traditionally been led by scientists who focus on radio astronomy. VASCO takes a different approach, considering “disappearing stars” as potential signs of advanced civilizations.
“This could be another spin off of SETI,” he told Space.com in an email. The search is also hitting close to home, he said. “We are also interested in searching for ET artifacts by looking for fast solar reflections (glows) from Earth-orbiting satellites and space debris.Sputnik pictures.”
And the VASCO project is not just for adults. An offshoot project, VASCO-Kids, allows young astronomy enthusiasts to participate in scientific research as well.
“The aim of VASCO-Kids is to popularize the global VASCO project, which targets young students and children in general, around the world, and also to use this project as a strong support for children’s astronomy education,” Echeima Amine- Master’s degree in astrophysics from Constantine 1 University Khoca, a veteran amateur astronomer who recently graduated and has worked with VASCO and VASCO-Kids for two years, told Space.com in an email.
Since VASCO is open to the public, web interface (opens in new tab) designed to be user-friendly to allow individuals of all scientific backgrounds to explore images of “missing” stars. VASCO-Kids is an example of public relations for a young audience that uses a web interface to help the project.
The VASCO citizen science project has already won some praise in the scientific community. For her work on the VASCO project, Villarroel received the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science in Sweden in 2021, and then the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science “International Rising Talents” in 2022, making her the first. Sweden will receive the award. Presented or published in several journals, including several studies based on VASCO searches Journal of Astronomy, Acta Astronautica and Scientific Reports (opens in new tab).
As VASCO continues, the project is working to improve its methods, including strengthening the artificial intelligence used by the project and collecting infrared and optical images of some of the “most interesting candidates.”
“Being part of the VASCO citizen science project helps one learn more and develop new skills and conduct scientific research like a real scientist,” Hichem Guergouri, an astrophysicist at the CERIST research institute in Algeria and co-author of the paper, told Space.com in an email. “The results we can get from a citizen science project may even lead to amazing big new discoveries that everyone wants to be a part of, so I encourage everyone to join the VASCO citizen science project.”
The project is described in a paper published on October 27 in Universe magazine and you can get acquainted with their project website.
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