Galaxy study hopes to enlist the public

Dec. 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. astronomers say they are looking for volunteers to explore Andromeda, the spiral galaxy next door to the Milky Way galaxy.

People power will drive the Andromeda Project to examine thousands of Hubble Space Telescope images of the galaxy to identify star clusters that hold clues to the evolution of galaxies, researchers at the University of Utah reported Wednesday.

"We want to get people excited about participating. We're hoping for thousands of volunteers," said Anil Seth, a project organizer and professor of physics and astronomy.

Anyone can take part by going to www.andromedaproject.org.

"I love looking through these amazing Hubble Space Telescope images of Andromeda, the closest big spiral galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy," Seth said. "The Andromeda Project will give lots of people the opportunity to share in that amazement."

Seth and colleagues said they want to "crowdsource" the task of sifting through Andromeda images and enlist volunteers from all walks of life to identify star clusters.

A goal of the Andromeda Project "is to study the history of the galaxy, and these clusters play an important role," Seth said.

Registration isn't required and a simple online tutorial helps volunteers quickly learn how to recognize and mark star clusters, the researchers said.

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