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Galaxy Zoo Supernovae and the WHT

ING web news release
11 April, 2011

Galaxy Zoo Supernovae (GZS) is a proof-of-concept project which uses members of the public to identify supernova candidates from the latest generation of wide-field imaging transient surveys.

Over the period 2010 April-July, nearly 14,000 supernova candidates from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) were classified by more than 2500 individuals within a few hours of data collection. SGZ team members compared the transients selected by the citizen scientists to those identified by experienced PTF scanners and found the agreement to be remarkable.

GZS was first tested on two specific occasions supporting PTF spectroscopic follow-up observations at the William Herschel Telescope, in 2009 August and October. The selection of the candidates observed by the WHT was guided by the GZS results, with a particular emphasis on comparing the classifications produced by GZS with those produced by PTF human scanners working on the same data. The top 20 scored candidates from this initial trial run of GZS are shown in the figure below. 16 of these candidates were observed by the WHT; 15 were confirmed as SNe, with one cataclysmic variable.

Each set of three PTF images shows, from the left-hand to right-hand side, the new image, the reference image and the subtraction image. The position of the candidate is shown in each panel by the cross-hairs. The candidate name and the spectroscopic type from the WHT (where available) are also shown [ GIF ] (extracted from Smith A. M., et al., 2011, MNRAS, 412, 1309).

Since 2010 April, GZS has been running full-time on PTF candidates and by 2010 July 15 had classified around 13,900 SN candidates at the rate of several hundred candidates per observing night. SGZ team members continue to use the WHT to confirm and follow up the SN candidates being discovered.

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Last modified: 13 April 2011