Green Lantern Fans help out in Astrophysics research

01 June 2011 | 0 comments

As part of our work on the Green Lantern campaign, we’ve created studytheskies.com. It’s the fruit of a partnership with Warner Bros. and Oxford University to bring hardcore astrophysics and superhero movie fans together.

The Zooniverse is a set of citizen science projects which lets internet users analyse photographic data generated by some of the world’s largest telescopes. The telescopes have generated hundreds of thousands of images – far more than any team of researchers could hope to check. Users log in and use a simple set of tools to spot important features: the shape of galaxies, or the location of craters on the moon. The aggregate data from the massed ranks of internet amateur astronomers is then passed back to research teams for analysis.

The Milky Way Project one of the Zooniverse’s latest ventures. In it, users analyse photographs from the Spitzer Space Telescope, maintained by Nasa, orbiting the earth. The particular feature people are looking for in these is photographs are ‘bubbles’ produced by the formation of stars. They manifest in the photographs as green rings. Yes, that’s GREEN RINGS. Which, as you’re all Green Lantern experts by now, you’ll know ties in perfectly with the backstory of the movie.

So, fans who have been following the intriguing narrative being played out at NewtonAstronomers.com have gained access to the telescope and have already classified thousands of images using a customised interface, earning rewards from characters from the world of the movie. And fans who aren’t taking part in that strand of activity can access a simpler version at studytheskies.com.

We’re delighted that Warner Bros have been so supportive of this element of the campaign – it feels great to be helping scientists in their work.

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