Tag Archive | Supernovae

11 targets left

We now have 11 targets left which we can do tonight. Some of the candidates, which are no longer visible tonight, we aim at observing tomorrow. It’s just a couple of hours until twilight, but we should be able to make it. When the night begun the list looked so long, but now it feels like we’re running of targets. We need more candidates! Please help us find them!


Midnight posting

It’s almost midnight here at La Palma. The sky is much clearer now, although occasionally some clouds are in the way. We have taken spectra of a bunch of candidates, but there’s still plenty of objects to visit. Thanks supernova hunters for keeping us busy tonight!


Starting observing

Here at the William Herschel telescope we (Isobel and Jakob) have started to observe the candidates found by the supernova hunters. There were some clouds earlier, but the sky is getting clearer. The first spectrum is taken right now and we got a long list of excting candidates from the Supernova Zoo to investigate.

Supernova Hunt Underway Again!

For those of you who took part in the Galaxy Zoo Supernova Hunt back in August – good news: the site is now back live, with an improved tutorial and interface. We hope that you like the changes that we have made.

A supernova is an exploding star, capable of outshining an entire galaxy. We have a robotic telescope from the Palomar Transient Factory in California sending us candidate supernovae from the galaxies it scans, and, as in August, we have two astronomers from Oxford standing by at the William Herschel Telescope on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. They will observe the best of the candidates that you identify.

Our last experiment in August was very successful, and so this time we’re looking at a much larger set of data in an attempt to work out just how common each type of supernova really is. The Supernova Hunt site has been live since Friday, and already there are no shortage of candidates for us to investigate further. But of course, we need more! If you didn’t get the chance to take part last time, please do spend a few minutes reading the tutorial, and enjoy hunting for supernovae! Any feedback or comments are very welcome, either here or over on the Galaxy Zoo forum. And, we’ll try to post regular updates from WHT as to how the observing run progresses. Let’s hope for good weather – you can keep an eye on that here using the webcams (during daylight!) and satellite feeds.


Galaxy Zoo Supernovae from a technical standpoint

I’ve just finished writing up some of the more technical details associated with our recent supernova hunt.  If you’re interested in how it all worked behind the scenes then head over here…



New supernovae found!

After a couple of exposures, we are happy to say that we believe the object mentioned previously is a young supernova. This is great news.

Mark and I thought we would give you better feel for what we are doing here by showing you something visual to have a look at. This our latest target, which we are confident is also a supernova from our raw data. What you can see here are the images of this object as they appear on the zoo. This is a great example of what a supernova will look like in the zoo images. The reason for this is that you can see some structure in the host of the supernova. In general if the transient object appears as in a blob, rather than a perfect circle, it is far more likely to be a real supernova, than a variable star. Although this is not a solid rule of supernovae screening, it is always good to know.

Thank you all for helping to make this observing run a real success. We will be sure to let you know our supernovae grand total soon enough but for now we are looking at in excess of 20 new supernovae. Let’s see if we can catch a few more!


WHT supernovae finds update

Just over half way through or night and we are doing well again, in spite of some technical adversity early on. Our next target is a very exciting target. It is either a very new supernovae that has only been around for a few days, or it could be an asteroid. Here at WHT we are certainly hoping for this object to be a young supernovae.

So, why are new supernovae so good? Well, to begin with we want to know as much about supernovae as possible and the best way to do that is to catch them early and follow them. Certainly if this object is what we hope it is, it will be a good candidate for future follow up.

This really is some exciting science! Stand by for an update on what we find!

Sarah :0)

WHT second night prepped and ready to go!

One hour till sunset and Mark and I are ready for another fantastic night of supernovae observing. At the moment there is not a cloud in the sky, so let’s hope this good weather holds!

So far we have the Telescope set up and ready again, just waiting for darkness …

Sarah :0)

End of the night, and new supernovae confirmed

We’re nearing the end of the night now – and that cirrus that threatened earlier blew through quickly, leaving us with clear skies and generally excellent observing conditions.

We ploughed through 16 supernova candidates, which kept us on our toes, and a first look at the data shows that indeed many of them turned out to be supernovae as we had hoped, rather than other variables sources (such as variable stars). So excellent work!

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped to make a successful night of observation; we’ll try for a fuller report tomorrow on what we found. We also have one more night tomorrow night, when we’ll continue to look at candidates identified by the zoo, so keep checking in for updates!


WHT supernovae update

Just over half way through our first night now and we’re well on track. Mark and I are happy to report that we are currently taking data for our 9th object of the night. Thank goodness for clear skies!

Of the 8 objects we already have, we are confident that most of them are supernovae of one type or another. We will keep you posted on the exact number of correct identifications, as well as their type, when we have reduced our spectra.

Exciting stuff!