The Chilean Pea hunt continues…
You may have noticed the Galaxy Zoo blog was down over the weekend. Well, it wasn’t the only one to be experiencing technical difficulties. On Sunday night we unfortunately lost four hours of observing time to technical gremlins. First we tried to use a new filter, which resulted in a nice 10 minute exposure of nothing. After a trip to the telescope to look around inside the instrument, the support staff worked out the problem: the filter was mislabelled on the computer. With that figured out, we changed to the correct filter and carried on – only to be stopped in our tracks again a couple of hours later by the whole telescope control system crashing! This time it took three hours of methodical troubleshooting to fix the problem, apparently some problem with a power lead. By then the night was almost over.
The lost time was a particular shame because the observing conditions were so good while we were out of action. Oh well, these things happen. Indeed, they are pretty much inevitable with a system as complicated and delicate as a professional telescope. Thankfully the support staff here are very good at tracking down issues and solving them quickly.
During the half of the night we were able to use, we managed to look at three z-Pea candidates, and confirmed two of them. The z-Peas are a bit redder and further away than the i-Peas we were observing on the two previous nights. Again we weren’t sure beforehand that the objects we’d selected would really turn out to be what we were hoping for, so it was a big relief when we measured their redshifts to be exactly where we expected.
So that was Sunday night. Now it’s Tuesday morning and technical niggles have now been well and truly put behind us. We’ve just had an excellent night, managing to observe five faint candidates, all of which turned out to be z-Peas! We have one more night on the telescope, which we are going to use to get better data for a few examples from the objects we’ve already confirmed – so we can learn more about them than just how far away they are, such as how fast they are forming stars and how much metals they contain.