New Data, New Look: A Brand New Milky Way Project

The Milky Way Project (MWP) is complete. It took about three years and 50,000 volunteers have trawled all our images multiple times and drawn more than 1,000,000 bubbles and several million other objects, including star clusters, green knots, and galaxies. We have produced several papers already and more are on the way. It’s been a huge success but: there’s even more data!

And so it is with glee that we announce the brand new Milky Way Project! It’s got more data, more objects to find, and it’s even more gorgeous.

The new MWP is being launched to include data from different regions of the galaxy in a new infrared wavelength combination. The new data consists of Spitzer/IRAC images from two surveys: Vela-Carina, which is essentially an extension of GLIMPSE covering Galactic longitudes 255°–295°, and GLIMPSE 3D, which extends GLIMPSE 1+2 to higher Galactic latitudes (at selected longitudes only). The images combine 3.6, 4.5, and 8.0 µm in the “classic” Spitzer/IRAC color scheme.  There are roughly 40,000 images to go through.

An EGO shines below a bright star cluster
An pair of EGOs shine below a bright star cluster

The latest Zooniverse technology and design is being brought to bear on this big data problem. We are using our newest features to retire images with nothing in them (as determined by the volunteers of course) and to give more screen time to those parts of the galaxy where there are lots of pillars, bubbles and clusters – as well as other things. We’re marking more objects –  bow shocks, pillars, EGOs  – and getting rid of some older ones that either aren’t visible in the new data or weren’t as scientifically useful as we’d hoped (specifically: red fuzzies and green knots).

We’ve also upgraded to the newest version of Talk, and have kept all your original comments so you can still see the previous data and the objects that were found there. The new Milky Way Project is teeming with more galaxies, stars clusters and unknown objects than the original MWP.

It’s very exciting! There are tens of thousands of images from the Spitzer Space Telescope to look through. By telling us what you see in this infrared data, we can better understand how stars form. Dive in now and start classifying at – we need your help to map and measure our galaxy.

4 thoughts on “New Data, New Look: A Brand New Milky Way Project”

  1. hello, it is a bit tricky to see the difference between pillars, bubbles, bow shocks .. could you define it a bit more? and then: could all red starlike objects be galaxies?

    1. Sometimes pillars look very bubbly and bubbles look like they’re made of pillar, so yes it’s tricky. If it’s round with a defined edge then go for bubble and it it has pillar-like structures around it, you can mark those too.

      No, not all red, starlike objects are galaxies. Some are simply stars or protostars. Galaxies and bow shocks are quite rare in these images so you should expect to see them very often. Galaxies are usually very red and mostly seen in voids (gaps) in the dust. Bow shocks are small to medium-size arcs and usually have stars at their tip, pushing into the dust around them.

  2. As per the project description, these are INFRARED images taken by Spitzer ST. And one of the object types that we are looking for is EGO / Strange “Green” objects near young stars. But since we are anyways extrapolating from Infrared to Visible, why do we think their color is so significant?

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