NASA | JPL-Caltech | Spitzer | Milky Way Project | 2015 Jan 27
[img3="Volunteers using the web-based Milky Way Project brought star-forming features nicknamed "yellowballs" to the attention of researchers, who later showed that they are a phase of massive star formation. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)"]http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/spitzer/ ... 908-16.jpg[/img3]Sometimes it takes a village to find new and unusual objects in space. Volunteers scanning tens of thousands of starry images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, using the Web-based Milky Way Project, recently stumbled upon a new class of curiosities that had gone largely unrecognized before: yellow balls. The rounded features are not actually yellow -- they just appear that way in the infrared, color-assigned Spitzer images.
"The volunteers started chatting about the yellow balls they kept seeing in the images of our galaxy, and this brought the features to our attention," said Grace Wolf-Chase of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. A colorful, 122-foot (37-meter) Spitzer mosaic of the Milky Way hangs at the planetarium, showcasing our galaxy's bubbling brew of stars. The yellow balls in this mosaic appear small but are actually several hundred to thousands of times the size of our solar system.
"With prompting by the volunteers, we analyzed the yellow balls and figured out that they are a new way to detect the early stages of massive star formation," said Charles Kerton of Iowa State University, Ames. "The simple question of 'Hmm, what's that?' led us to this discovery." Kerton is lead author, and Wolf-Chase a co-author, of a new study on the findings in the Astrophysical Journal. ...
Stellar astronomers answer question posed by citizen scientists: ‘What are yellowballs?’
Iowa State University | 2015 Jan 26
The Milky Way Project: What are Yellowballs? - C. R. Kerton et al
- Astrophysical Journal 799(2):153 (2015 Feb 01) DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/799/2/153