Caught in a cosmic dance, our nearest neighbor galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, are cartwheeling and circling each other as they fall toward our galaxy, the Milky Way. The gravitational interaction between the Clouds sparks cosmic fireworks—bursts of star formation as new clusters of stars flame on. How many and what kind of star clusters have been born this way over the history of the Clouds? A new project, the Local Group Cluster Search, invites citizen scientists to help find out!
Cliff Johnson, a postdoctoral fellow at CIERA who leads the citizen science project, says, “While computer-based methods continue to improve, the varying backgrounds and appearance of star clusters in images of nearby galaxies make cluster identification difficult to automate. Algorithmic cluster searches have trouble eliminating false detections due to chance groupings of stars, while human-classified catalogs provide a reliable sample of clusters down to very faint brightness levels.”
Visit the full news release, Cosmic Fireworks in the Clouds: Volunteer Detectives Sought for Magellanic Clouds Cluster Search(from National Optical Astronomy Observatory NEWS)
Join the search by visiting the project website at clustersearch.org.
Check out the blog post on the cluster search in the Triangulum galaxy.