How likely are we to discover something here?

Are all or most of the lenses, asteroids, comets, supernovae, quasars, etc already known?

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Someone here discovered a supernova around two months ago (sorry I forget the username)


To give individual answers:

I think lenses in HSC are almost all known. Dark Energy survey region could also be quite well covered (I remember there was a ML paper). Legacy could be a lot unknown. Finding gravitational lenses was really special a few years ago. Now there are so many known.

Problem here is that the observations are months/years old. For a discovery you usually need a fresh observation or an advanced technique to connect observations that are far away. I think for TNOs something like this was done (maybe with DES?).

As @jim_c said. Was probably @ine?
Just ask the galaxy zoo people in this discussion how to submit to the Transient Name Server. To be honest: Nobody will remember your supernova if you just post it here in legacy, but in TNS it can be searched via coordinates. Similar problem as asteroids: Supernovae fade usually and are not detectable after a year. So nobody will observe your supernova. It is just telling the surveys teams what they missed and your submission to TNS is maybe good for some statistics.

You cannot find quasars just by looking at images. Spectral features (or analysis via color-magnitude?) are required. Generally quasars are not really special, they are everywhere. It would be interesting if you find an unusual quasar [e.g. with extended emission line region (EELR, see “Voorwerpjes” below)]

I don’t know what the chances are that someone here at the legacy discussion will take your observation and write a paper about it (a “discovery”).

I discovered a variable nebula with the help of the legacy viewer. But I did not know any researcher that could help me, so I did publish it as a research note. It turned out that I was not correct in my conclusion, but it is still an interesting object that got Keck (big telescope in Hawaii) follow-up (see this ATel).

One big search that I know is based to 80% on the legacy viewer. Volunteers of the galaxy zoo project are looking for “Voorwerpjes” and found really a lot. Bill Keel et al. are using telescopes worldwide to follow-up these candidates. I think they are working on their paper currently. Look for “hanny’s voorwerp” to see what I mean:

I think there are a lot of things to discover, it is a matter of: knowing what could be interesting, knowing how to find these interesting needles in a haystack, lots of luck and knowing the right people.


What you say is a little disappointing, Melina. I had hoped (rather, expected) that people actively working in the field would be looking at the “discoveries” made by “ordinary citizens” in here and taking them forward for more investigation. You mention Galaxy Zoo, but in my opinion a problem with Galaxy Zoo is that they only present limited sets of pre-selected data and they look for specific things - I regularly ran out of images to analyse in there, and it became very boring wading through masses of almost identical images and repeatedly pressing the same sequence of buttons to get to the next one, which is why I came here.

I have been looking for gravitational lenses as well as identifying other nice examples of galaxies etc. I may be wrong, but I believe so far the researchers working on lensing have been searching the digital images automatically using algorithms. An algorithm is easily confused - the paper linked to by Dustin in response to one of my questions showed a number of images that I would not have considered very likely to be lensing, and did not include some other potential lenses that I found through visual searching. I don’t know whether the potential lenses I find are already known about or not, so I post every one I see.

Unfortunately I cannot tell if anyone else has already found the same features that I do - which is why I suggested to Dustin in another post that there could usefully be a layer or layers added into the overlays section into which we can “pin” our finds. With all the found objects marked in an overlay we would know not to pin an already found object. Then formal researchers could regularly analyse the finds and identify any of the found objects that are as yet unknown to science, scrutinise them carefully, and rank them using their “educated eyes” before submitting credible new finds to a relevant research team for further investigation.

However, if this site is really just for our own amusement then I may as well stop using it, as I have other more constructive ways in which I can spend my time. I’d really like to know. Dustin?


You can post anything you find in legacy also in galaxy zoo. The discussions there are not limited to the classifications. There are no rules that prevent you from talking about your legacy findings. I basically do never discuss any classification image on galaxy zoo and I have only a very low classification count at GZ.

One problem that I currently see is that you are posting each lens separately. I guess it is very difficult for researchers to skim through all these comments. You should maybe create one discussion where you list all your lensing finds as coordinates in one comment. By updating this list every time you find a lens, a researcher could just easily pick out the lenses they find interesting.

Maybe I am wrong and researchers do work on some of the findings. It just sounds quite odd to me that they never informed anyone, if this is the case. Usually researchers send me a message saying: “Cool find, we are going to include it in our follow-up list.” or “We could write a paper about it.”, if they want to research it.

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I went back through some threads and found it was @DaSteeK who discovered a supernova. Is that "purple" an artefact?


Ah, ok.

By the way the person that submitted the candidate to TNS looks like a galaxy zoo volunteer that also learned at GZ how to submit to TNS.

Sorry that I am bursting here bubbles. It is just that I was in a similar situation in the past. I believed in the past that some of our findings in the Milky Way Project 2 would be picked up by the scientists. Only one object was further researched and had a Null-Result (Project was launched 5 years ago). Similar thing happened with the discovery of K2-138 in the Project Exoplanet Explorers. I was the second person that commented for one of the planets and I got even an E-Mail back then. Many of us were so hopeful that we will get our names on the paper. In the end only the volunteers that were the first ones to classify the planets were on the paper. We others did not even get in the acknowledgements. The K2 system with the most planets and we are not in the paper.

Today I don’t care that much about me not getting on a paper, but back then it could have been the first one, so it was frustrating and I did not know if I should continue. I stopped being part of the Milky Way Project. Was the right decision for me.

I think it’s in our nature as humans to want/need acknowledgement for our achievements. Being the first to discover a heretofore unknown object is obviously a hugely attractive proposition for most people. To me, first and foremost, this platform gives us the ability to scan much of the known universe and gasp in awe of it’s beauty and unfathomable scope. This type of tool was previously unimaginable to cosmologists only a decade ago. Carl Sagan himself would have likely given his left arm for the ability to access this site when he graced this Earth. I would recommend that we all enjoy this gift to the public and embrace this incredible opportunity we all now have to gaze at the near and far reaches of our universe. If one of us happens to discover an unknown planetary body then that’s simply gravy. We should keep our perspective for how lucky we are to be able to utilize this incredible tool and not focus on who gets credit for what. This is just my opinion.


Yes. I hope nobody misunderstood what I said. I was talking about the past me and how things changed for me. It was not a recommendation to think like my past self.

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I do not agree with you. In addition to helping astronomers analyse data and photos, I am on this site and on the Zooniverse site for my own entertainment, and if I discover something beautiful, then I’m a lucky Girl. I am grateful that there is such a thing as the Legacy Survey and I enjoy all the wonderful things I get to see.

But I’ve already discovered some really cool things 90 supernovae, interesting peculiar galaxies, a few lens candidates, a green pea, and eleven ‘voorwerp’ candidates.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Ine :stars::dizzy:


It’s also worth understanding that a lot of observing moves slowly. You should not imagine that there are astronomers who will see your posting and point a giant telescope at it the next night and write a paper the day after that. Getting Hubble time is like a year-long process, and most of the publicly-owned big telescopes are not much faster.


^^^^This.^^^^ I think a lot of people dont realize the process of applying for telescope time (proposals etc). Even when you get some, it can be weathered off, or something else can happen. Getting observations take time. For this reason, astronomers are very picky about what they observe when they get the time.

On the topic of discoveries, i’d say you’ve got a pretty good chance of discovering some cool stuff. Legacy/DES doesnt cover the whole sky, but it covers its area with pretty nice resolution. I discovered a new PN candidate on DES DR1 recently. Made it to the HASH database and might have a spectrum taken to confirm in the autumn (“Fall” for 'muricans) if an astronomer I know gets telescope time in Chile.


Yes, a lot of stuff is already known, but if you look hard enough for long enough, there’s plenty of cool stuff yet to be found!


As a scientist myself I understand the constraints in getting time allocated on advanced facilities like telescopes. Try getting time on a synchrotron! My point is not that I expect someone to immediately point Hubble at something I have seen in Legacy Survey, rather that someone who is working on things like gravitational lensing would want to collate all the lens candidates that have been found, to prioritise them for further planned study as time becomes available (which I presume is booked in advance for university programs, etc.).
If the finds we are making in here are simply going to be for our own enjoyment of the Cosmos, then I regard that as a tremendous waste, because research scientists might never have the time to find these objects for themselves, and they could be very useful. I hate waste of any kind, especially the waste of essentially good scientific data.

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If a mayor discovery takes place (like Hanny’s #voorwerp or Melina’s discovery) They will eventually notice. It is important that they are made aware of any interesting discoveries. In Galaxy Zoo we have created a special topic for this purpose, namely: objects that need more research. And when it comes to #voorwerp candidates, William Keel can be made aware of this. He is a regular visitor at Galaxy Zoo. Supernovae official reporting site is the Transient Name server with the supernova workgroup from the IAU. And if you are the reporter (discoverer) your name will automatically appear in the: The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System as the author after your transient is reported in the TNS.

My name (both last names) are 78 times in it. And the other 12 only registrated with my husband’s last name. :slight_smile:

So it is really worth it and definitely not a waste. Even if it is most of the time for your own pleasure because it is good for your development.


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Ine, I think the finds made in here should be PROMOTED to interested researchers, rather than merely hoping that someone might eventually notice them. At present there is no collation of the finds into a readily transferable form that a researcher might be able to use - the finds are dotted all over the place among random comments.

That is why I have suggested that there should be an overlay layer added to the browser into which we can ‘pin’ our finds. The finds could then be ranked by Dustin or some other knowledgeable person to categorise them according to the subject matter (e.g. galaxy merger, lensing, transient etc.) and quality.

This would not only be of benefit for us searching the images, because by displaying the overlay we would be able to see objects that others have already found, it would also be a record of all the relevant finds that an active researcher might be interested in.

The finds overlay layer could have the ranked and classified entries in it tabulated into RA/Dec order for download by interested researchers. It would be a great time saver and would ensure that anything found in here would be quickly made known to the experts actively working in the field.

This is my suggestion, anyway. Without such a facility, I fear that an awful lot of potentially valuable resource (our time) risks going to waste.


The viewer overlay is a good idea, but not one I have time to implement right now.

And that compiling/collating job is a big one!

There’s nothing stopping you from sending your finds over to the relevant experts/researchers.

This is a discussion forum. Researchers don’t generally browse forums to find new stuff.

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Also worth noting that if you want researchers to see what you find, just use Galaxy Zoo. It uses DES Legacy for its images

Yes, I think that is a good idea. A kind of system in our discoveries that researchers can easily find them. I just think the practical side of the story is a bit of a problem.

Ine :stars::dizzy:

Aha! But think of the Kudos! :grin:

Isn’t there a student somewhere who could put that together for you? It’s the kind of task we were often asked to do when I was a student, then the Prof would get the glory. :roll_eyes:

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