Tag Archive | WHT

Supernova Zoo news

Thanks to all of you who participated in our second trial of the supernova hunt! As with our first trial in August, it was very successful, and kept our WHT observers, Jakob and Isobel, very busy – as you can see from their blogs! In the 3 days that we ran the trial, 2089 of you inspected over 2000 supernova candidates, answering more than 100,000 classification questions. The best of these were then passed to WHT for observation.

The first observing night had relatively poor observing conditions, but the second night was clear and plenty of zoo targets were observed. You can see a selection of the supernovae that you found and that were observed at WHT on the supernova zoo front page. Using the spectrograph on WHT, we were able to confirm these as supernovae and determine their types. We took spectra of more than 20 candidates identified by the zoo, and are now busy reducing and analysing that data.

Our plan now is to take the supernova hunt down for a short while, to make improvements to the tutorial and classification questions. Please do keep the feedback coming – the supernova zoo now has its own sub-forum where you can give us comments, and we will try to answer any questions that you might have. Our goal to have to supernova zoo support all of our Palomar Transient Factory supernova observing runs – and not just those at WHT – in the near future.

Thanks for all of your help!


Awaiting the sunset

We’re sitting in the control room of WHT awaiting the sunset. Before sunset we should take some calibration data and finalise the list of candidates. New candidates are sent to us by e-mail all the time. Tonight we’ll have a go at some candidates we didn’t observe yestereday or need to get an additional spectrum of. There are som very faint challenging targets we still haven’t decided whether to include or not. The wheather is much better to night. Almost no clouds at all. This is going to be an exciting night!

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.