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A NASA-backed citizen science project is taking a “census” of the universe 65 light-years from the sun

A NASA-backed citizen science project is taking a “census” of the universe 65 light-years from the sun

Artist's illustration of the brown dwarf named 2MASSJ22282889-431026. NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes observed the object to learn more about its turbulent atmosphere. Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
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To perform a “Countifying” Nearby Cosmic ObjectsObviously, sending the survey won't work. Scientists need to use many telescopes of different specializations to map and list all the objects in the vicinity of the Sun.

So through the project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9YouCitizen scientists “help professional scientists create a new world”Census”, which resulted in more than 3,500 cosmic objectsThe US space agency says NASA.

new Stady Published in the magazine Astrophysical Journal The results of this census appear 65 light-years from the sun, and researchers have found this There are four times as many stars as brown dwarfswhat Low mass objects are more common than high mass objects.

Brown dwarfs

to Brown dwarfs Not quite stars or planetsIt is an element of the mesocosm. By comparison, it is more massive than Jupiter, but it does not fuse hydrogen into its core, as lower-mass stars do.

The Sun, red dwarf, brown dwarf, Jupiter and Earth
Comparative illustration between: our Sun, a low-mass red dwarf star, a brown dwarf, Jupiter and Earth. Credits: Social networks, textures provided in Cinema 4D R16 by Björn Jónsson, FarGetaNik, cube Apocalypse, and Planetkid32.

The study supports this idea The formation process of brown dwarfs is somewhat different from that of more massive stars. Both types of objects are thought to form when a cloud of gas and dust collapses, but there may be different “seeds” that determine whether it is one type of object or another.

Brown dwarfs are more massive and hotter than planets, but they do not have the mass necessary to become hot stars. Its atmosphere may be similar to that of the giant planet Jupiter.

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The next step in this line of research is Examining data from the space telescope James Webb NASA, which studies molecular clouds that contain the “seeds” of stars, brown dwarfs, and planets. Future research may reveal more about how these seeds differ from each other.

Three “citizen scientists” of the project Backyard worlds He received observation time on the James Webb Space Telescope, as co-investigators on selected proposals for this instrument.

Citizen scientists

Scientists were able to organize the investigated objects according to three different types of masses, as the frequency of the objects changed suddenly. This indicates that There are different physical effects responsible for creating different types of things.

C said. “There's something about the star formation process buried in this data,” said Davey Kirkpatrick, lead author of the study and a researcher at IPAC (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center) at Harvard University. California Institute of Technology In Pasadena (California). “We have another clue about how this works.”

Citizen scientists sped up the process of identifying objects in this census by 10 to 15 years, compared to what it would have taken researchers to do the work without them, said J. David Kirkpatrick.

Through the project Backyard Worlds, Citizen scientists indicate whether objects in photo sets are “close” (within the general region of our Sun in the galaxy), and observing the movement of objects relative to the background.

Universe, objects, galaxy, sun
NASA's Citizen Science Project is surveying the universe 65 light-years from the Sun.

Using a A tool called WiseViewwas developed by a group of citizen scientists to easily collect images from the mission wise (Wide range infrared scanning detector) from NASA Volunteers Animation created to find moving objects. “They made the project more efficient for everyone,” Kirkpatrick said.

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Previously, citizen scientists helped research what was known about these objects in the scientific literature through the program excellent Ambassadorsalso created by Kirkpatrick.

Participate in citizen science projects associated with NASA

The citizen scientists who participated in and are credited with authoring this latest study, when they are not searching for cosmic data, are (as in the case of Leopold Grammais) working as security and operations managers at airports in Paris-Charles de Gaulle that it Le Bourget.

Brown dwarf
This concept artist shows citizen scientist William Pendrell, on the left, a cool brown dwarf called T Dwarf, and on the right, a hotter brown dwarf passing in front of a distant star. Credit: William Pendrell.

Gramiz learned about the project Backyard worlds In 2019, he liked the idea of ​​searching for brown dwarfs, which he had never heard of before. Grammayes became so interested in these things that he learned programming so he could search astronomical databases more quickly. As part of this particular study, he helped discover some brown dwarfs and helped review the scientific literature.

There are more than 40 citizen science projects associated with NASA. Participation is open to everyone worldwide and is not limited to US citizens or residents.

like April is Citizen Science Monthdon't miss the next Meteored report coming very soon about NASA's citizen science projects in collaboration between scientists and stakeholders right now.

News reference:

Kirkpatrick, J.D. et al. Initial mass function based on a 20-segment all-sky population of ∼3600 stars and brown dwarfs. Astrophysical Journal, Fifth. 271, no. 2, 2024.