Citizen Scientists Discovered More than 5000 Bubbles in Milky Way

A team of volunteers has pored over observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope 

and discovered more than 5,000 bubbles in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. Young, hot stars blow these bubbles into surrounding gas and dust, indicating areas of brand new star formation. Upwards of 35,000 citizen scientists sifted through the Spitzer infrared data as part of the online Milky Way Project to find these telltale bubbles. The volunteers have turned up 10 times as many bubbles as previous surveys so far. According to Eli Bressert, an astrophysics doctoral student at the European Southern Observatory, based in Germany, and the University of Exeter, England, and co-author of a paper submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society these findings make us suspect that the Milky Way is a much more active star-forming galaxy than previously thought. The Milky Way Project taps into the “wisdom of crowds” by requiring that at least five users flag a potential bubble before its inclusion in the new catalog. Volunteers mark any candidate bubbles in the infrared Spitzer images with a sophisticated drawing tool before proceeding to scour another image. The data come from the Spitzer Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) and Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer Galactic (MIPSGAL) surveys. The bubbles tagged by the volunteers vary in size and shape, both with distance and due to local gas cloud variations. The results will help astronomers better identify star formation across the galaxy.
source:www.nasa.gov