We’re very excited you’ve taken the time to visit the new Andromeda Project site! With your help, we’re going to identify the largest sample of star clusters known in any spiral galaxy, including our own Milky Way. We will use the clusters you find to study the history of Andromeda and to better understand how stars form.
The beautiful images you will be looking at come from the Hubble Space Telescope. Since 2010, Hubble has spent nearly two months of time looking at Andromeda as part of the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) survey. For the Andromeda Project, we’ve broken these pictures up into more than 9,000 separate images; there are more than 3 billion pixels that we need you to help us examine!
Star clusters are groups of hundreds to millions of stars that are all born together. This means that their ages are (relatively) easy to determine, and the first thing we do after you find the clusters will be to measure their ages and masses. Once their ages and masses are known, we can use these clusters to mark major formation epochs in the galaxies’ history. We will also identify the youngest star clusters which we can use to test theories of star formation.
In addition to star clusters, you’ll also be identifying background galaxies and image artifacts. We will use the galaxies to study the gas and dust within Andromeda; Galaxy Zoo veteran Bill Keel will have a blog post about this soon.
We’d like to thank our wonderful beta testers who helped make this site more usable. If you have any questions or comments take a look at the About and Guide sections, or create a post in the Talk section.
Good luck cluster hunters!
Anil Seth is an assistant professor at the University of Utah’s Physics & Astronomy department (http://www.physics.utah.edu/~aseth/)