It’s still early in our run here at WHT and we have already identified two supernovae! One Type Ia and one Type II (wikipedia them here), which is an excellent start.
Looking at the status of the weather, we have mostly clear skies. There are a few thin clouds about, but in general the clouds are below us. So, we’re definitely hoping for a few more positive identifications tonight.
Quick update from Mark and I here at the William Herschel Telescope. It’s three hours till sundown and we are already setup, which means we are ready to go as soon as night falls. We are keeping our eyes on the clouds, you can see the satellite pictures here (click on the weather image and scroll down. La Palma is the north-westerly island of the cluster of 5) and hoping that they don’t cause too many problems.
Greatly looking forward to getting some good supernovae observing in. Look out for more updates through the night.
Good fortune supernovae hunters!
Greetings from the William Herschel Telescope at the Observatario del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma, in the Canary Islands. Sarah and I have now arrived here, and tomorrow night, the 12th, we’ll join in the fun by observing some of the supernova candidates that you’ve identified in the PTF data. The weather here is currently perfect – beautiful dark clear skies, and incidentally a fantastic place to view the Perseid meteor shower.
Fingers crossed that this great weather remains for our two observing nights, and we can confirm those supernovae that you’ve been diligently hunting out. We’ll try to post regular updates tomorrow as to what we find out – though please bear with us if we appear slow to update; observing can sometimes be a very busy job!
I’ve just added in the latest batch of images taken by the Palomar Transient Factory last night. The PTF surveys large areas the sky every night looking for new supernovae. The images from these observations are then run through an automated pipeline which flags potential new candidates which we show to you.
One of the most exciting aspects of Supernova Zoo is that we are showing Zooites images taken from the PTF telescope just hours earlier and if you mark it as something interesting then we very quickly show it to more people so we can get a definitive answer quickly. Finding new supernovae as early as possible is one of the main aims of Supernova Zoo, if and when we find something interesting Mark and Sarah are waiting to follow it up at the WHT.
We have a special challenge for you this week – Galaxy Zoo is going Supernova Hunting.
A supernova is an exploding star, capable of outshining an entire galaxy. We have a robotic telescope in Palomar, California sending us candidate objects from the galaxies it scans, and a team of Oxford astronomers are on their way to the Canary Islands to follow up the most likely.
The choice of galaxies to follow-up on is in your hands – we’ll be posting new data each day, and keeping a running list of those candidates that most Zooites think are likely supernovae. Get clicking…and you might well be the first to discover an exploding star.
(P.S. This is a prototype of a much larger project so all feedback and comments – good and bad – are of course welcome either here or on the forum.