You Too Can Help Find Galaxies

Image (Credit): Big Bang expansion. (NASA/WMAP Science Team]

About 10,000 amateur scientists in 85 countries have already assisted with galaxy-mapping, but more help is needed in locating these distant galaxies billions of light-years away.

It is all part of the Dark Energy Explorers project using data from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, a 10 meter telescope located at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas. Volunteers will assist with the Hobby-Eberly Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), which is designed to:

….find over one million galaxies that are 9 billion to 11 billion light-years away, yielding the largest map of the universe ever produced. The map will allow HETDEX astronomers to measure how fast the universe was expanding at different times in its history. Changes in the expansion rate will reveal the role of dark energy at different epochs. Various explanations for dark energy predict different changes in the expansion rate, so by providing exact measurements of the expansion, the HETDEX map will eliminate some of the competing ideas.

The Explorers website can walk you through all of the necessary details to help identify signals from distant galaxies. Approximately 247,000 galaxies have already been identified, but that is just a fraction of what scientist believe is out there in the patch of sky being observed.

Ultimately, the plan is to build a 3D map of the cosmos concentrated on galaxies in the early universe. This should assist scientists with their understanding of dark energy.

This is your chance to be an astronomer. Time to have fun and pitch in.