The Australian National University invited volunteers to take-part in the University's search for exploding stars called supernovae. The scientists will utilize these to measure the Universe and its growth acceleration.
The volunteers were provided with a web portal on Zooniverse.org to scan images taken by the ANU Siding Spring Observatory’s SkyMapper 1.3-metre telescope for the SkyMapper Transient Survey. They were asked to spot the differences in images which the researchers can follow up.
Over 700 volunteers participated; and in just one day, they were able to spot a real exploding star. The star which exploded 970 million years ago, even before dinosaurs existed on earth, was spotted by Elisabeth Baeten from Belgium and Alan Craggs from Scotland.
"This is the exact type of supernova we're looking for -- type Ia supernova -- to measure properties of and distances across the Universe” said Dr Brad Tucker, the study’s co-lead researcher.
They are tracking 18 other potentially exploding stars. And the amateur participants have reported seven possible supernovae in total to the Transient Name Server. In the very first day, they got more than 30,000 classifications. Since the project’s launch, the classifications have almost reached 40,000.