More peas

Example UDS Peas at redshift 0.5

Back in March I was speaking to a colleague of mine in Nottingham, Seb Foucaud, about the Galaxy Zoo Peas, and showing him Carie’s paper. Seb works primarily on very distant (high redshift) massive galaxies, often using data from the UKIDSS Ultra Deep Survey. He quickly noticed that the way Carie selected Peas from SDSS data was very similar to the way they select high redshift galaxies, except that the exact colours used were different, as more distant galaxies are redder.

What this meant was that he already had an excellent dataset for searching for objects equivalent to the SDSS Peas, but at higher redshifts. With the deadline for telescope proposals just a few weeks away, it seemed like a good opportunity to put together a case for getting more detailed spectroscopic observations for a sample of these objects. The first aim is simply to confirm the redshifts of these galaxies, to make sure they are what they think they are. The second is to find out more about them, in particular how fast they are forming stars and their chemical make-up, so we can compare them with the SDSS Peas and work out if they really are the same kinds of object.

Finding more distant versions of the Peas will be very helpful to understanding exactly how they compare to apparently similar galaxies that were rapidly forming stars in early in the history of the universe. If we can demonstrate convincing links between the populations, then we can use the nearby SDSS Peas to study the processes that built up some of the earliest galaxies, which are too far away to permit detailed study.

The ESO New Technology Telescope (NTT)

So, with all that in mind I set about working out which telescope would be most suitable, checking the feasibility and writing the proposal, with input from a few other members of the Galaxy Zoo and UDS teams, while Seb worked on refining a way of selecting good candidates from his data. We decided to ask for time on the NTT, at La Silla Observatory in Chile, using the instrument EFOSC2. The proposal was submitted to ESO on 31st March, and since then we’ve been waiting to find out the decision. We finally heard back from ESO this week, and as you may have guessed, we’ve been successful. The comments noted that the proposed observations are somewhat speculative, which they are given we don’t know for sure that the Pea selection will work well at higher redshift. However, given the potential for some very interesting results, we have been allocated 5 nights observing in November. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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13 responses to “More peas”

  1. Hanny says :

    Heh, you really gave peas a chance! 😀

  2. DancesWithWords says :

    This is very good news in deed. The potential for interesting results… hmmm. It is like waiting for the end of a good mystery novel. 🙂

  3. Rick Nowell says :

    Wow! Five nights! Awesome! All the best!

  4. Kevin says :

    The five nights are `dark time’ as well. Dark time are those nights where the moon is not up and increasing the sky background. These are the most valuable nights of the month.

  5. Alice says :

    That’s just wonderful!!!! What an amazing harvest we’ll be reaping 😀

  6. carloartemi says :

    Very interesting ! If I am not wrong this is the first time methods typical of Galaxyzoo will be applied to high-redshift objects . It would be very beautiful if we could understood nature of dark matter using these studies !

  7. Half65 says :

    Great news and have a great time.

  8. zeus2007 says :

    That’s so cool, peas here we come! Five nights, that’s awesome news. All the best to you guys and have fun seeking peas.

  9. starry nite says :

    So what’s the redshift range you’ll be looking in? And are all the targets going to be from Seb’s dataset or might you look at some of our red peas from the forums? There’s quite a lot out to z=0.9 with powerful OIII peaks.

  10. Carie says :

    This is such exciting news! Here’s hoping for clear skys 🙂

  11. Mark O'Connell says :

    You know if the first person that found the peas was from England then we could say that these are English Peas. lol – Yeah, I to…

  12. Mark O'Connell says :

    I had to*

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  1. Galaxy Zoo Blog » Pea Hunting preamble - November 11, 2009

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