Black Hole Hunters has launched!
29 October 2021, by Adam McMaster in Black Hole Hunters
Our new project, Black Hole Hunters, has officially launched on the Zooniverse. This project asks volunteers – you! – to look for the telltale signs of hidden black holes in SuperWASP light curves. We’re looking for an effect called gravitational microlensing, where an otherwise invisible black hole briefly magnifies the light from its companion star. This should show up as a short peak in brightness in the light curve and it’s these peaks we’re asking people to find.
We’ve received almost 40,000 classifications in the first two days since the project launched. That’s amazing! This is thanks in part to the project being linked from the Open University’s web page about the BBC’s Universe documentary series which is airing at the moment. We’re really excited to see the new TV series and it’s great that people are able to find the Black Hole Hunters project in this way.
The project is off to a great start, but there’s still lots of work to be done. Some of our early results have hinted at one or two objects that we want to follow up on and there could be lots more waiting to be found. If you want a shot at finding a new black hole, head over to the project now to start hunting!
The SuperWASP project is currently funded and operated by Warwick University and Keele University, and was originally set up by Queen’s University Belfast, the Universities of Keele, St. Andrews and Leicester, the Open University, the Isaac Newton Group, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the South African Astronomical Observatory and by STFC.
The Zooniverse project on SuperWASP Variable Stars is led by Andrew Norton (The Open University) and builds on work he has done with his former postgraduate students Les Thomas, Stan Payne, Marcus Lohr, Paul Greer, and Heidi Thiemann, and current postgraduate student Adam McMaster.
The Zooniverse project on SuperWASP Variable Stars was developed with the help of the ASTERICS Horizon2020 project. ASTERICS is supported by the European Commission Framework Programme Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation action under grant agreement n.653477
VeSPA was designed and developed by Adam McMaster as part of his postgraduate work. This work is funded by STFC, DISCnet, and the Open University Space SRA. Server infrastructure was funded by the Open University Space SRA.