After a fantastic (re)launch in December and a busy January, the Milky Way Project was doing well and was about 93% complete… until about 8 hours ago. Last night, the social media powerhouse that is IFLS pointed tens of thousands of people our way and in an hour they finished the project. This is obviously great news for science but some people might be wondering what happens next.
The good news is that we have more data! The bad news is that it won’t be ready for another few weeks. In the meantime we are also working on producing some results from all your work, and you can continue to discuss things on Talk. We’ll let everyone know when we have more images to classify but for now: thank you for all your hard work and attention.
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.
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 www.milkywayproject.org – we need your help to map and measure our galaxy.
Feedback from everyone about the Milky Way Project has been overwhelmingly positive. You all seem to love the images and the interface. One thing that is always requested though, is more tutorial examples of the things we’d like you to flag as areas of interest: green knots, dark nebulae, star clusters etc.
All the new example collections were built using the classifications you have made so far. We used your first 100,000 classifications to create lists of the objects most regularly flagged in each category. Hopefully you will find these useful in learning how to spot some of the amazing things that are out there in the Milky Way (and sometimes, beyond)!