Black Hole Citizen Science Site
November 10, 2015 10:34 PM   Subscribe

Black Hole Citizen Science Site
I'm trying to develop a site to advance astronomy research and education. Layperson volunteers help to classify the very complicated X-ray flickering of black hole system GRS 1915+105.

The Zooniverse (, a suite of such projects, now comes with a handy site-builder, which I've used to make a demonstration of what I'd like to seek funding to build for real. This star system has it all: gas jets that appear to shoot out at faster than light speed (optical illusion) and an incredible variety of not-quite-periodic flickerings. Later iterations of the site may include data from X-ray telescopes besides the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, and other star systems such as Cygnus X-1. Right now I used just the light curves automatically provided at the HEASARC site. Eventually I'd like to curate and clean up the data better, perhaps including light curves at different X-ray energy ranges as well.

One neat thing: you can also "hear" the flickering X-rays as sound (sped up). Click on "i" for information and you'll be redirected to the sound file (not hosted on Zooniverse itself). I'm seeking feedback on everything from site design, ease of use, educational and scientific value, and next steps to take.

The sound files are made from single data files which however may cover more than one orbit of the spacecraft, and thus have gaps in time that have been skipped over.

One minor thing I'll need to work out: the site will return to me a csv file of where on the images of the plots the users click. However the x and y scales of each plot are very different so I'll have to figure out the mapping from pixel to time and count level. Either that, or normalize the coordinates to be uniform.

I've been calling the site "Black Hole Zoo" in parallel with the existing "Galaxy Zoo", but there may be other organizations that use this name.
Role: Designer
posted by Schmucko (0 comments total)

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