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Galaxy Zoo Supernovae

Smith, A. M. and Lynn, S. and Sullivan, M. and Lintott, C. J. and Nugent, P. E. and Botyanszki, J. and Kasliwal, M. and Quimby, R. and Bamford, S. P. and Fortson, L. F. and Schawinski, K. and Hook, I. and Blake, S. and Podsiadlowski, P. and Jönsson, J. and Gal-Yam, A. and Arcavi, I. and Howell, D. A. and Bloom, J. S. and Jacobsen, J. and Kulkarni, S. R. and Law, N. M. and Ofek, E. O. and Walters, R. (2011) Galaxy Zoo Supernovae. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 412 (2). pp. 1309-1319. ISSN 0035-8711.

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This paper presents the first results from a new citizen science project: Galaxy Zoo Supernovae. This proof-of-concept project uses members of the public to identify supernova candidates from the latest generation of wide-field imaging transient surveys. We describe the Galaxy Zoo Supernovae operations and scoring model, and demonstrate the effectiveness of this novel method using imaging data and transients from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). We examine the results collected over the period 2010 April–July, during which nearly 14 000 supernova candidates from the PTF were classified by more than 2500 individuals within a few hours of data collection. We compare the transients selected by the citizen scientists to those identified by experienced PTF scanners and find the agreement to be remarkable – Galaxy Zoo Supernovae performs comparably to the PTF scanners and identified as transients 93 per cent of the ~130 spectroscopically confirmed supernovae (SNe) that the PTF located during the trial period (with no false positive identifications). Further analysis shows that only a small fraction of the lowest signal-to-noise ratio detections (r > 19.5) are given low scores: Galaxy Zoo Supernovae correctly identifies all SNe with ≥8σ detections in the PTF imaging data. The Galaxy Zoo Supernovae project has direct applicability to future transient searches, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, by both rapidly identifying candidate transient events and via the training and improvement of existing machine classifier algorithms.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Nugent, P. E.0000-0002-3389-0586
Kasliwal, M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Quimby, R.0000-0001-9171-5236
Hook, I.0000-0002-2960-978X
Gal-Yam, A.0000-0002-3653-5598
Arcavi, I.0000-0001-7090-4898
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Law, N. M.0000-0001-9380-6457
Ofek, E. O.0000-0002-6786-8774
Additional Information:© 2011 The Authors. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS. Accepted 2010 November 5. Received 2010 November 5; in original form 2010 September 29. Article first published online: 7 Feb. 2011. This publication has been made possible by the participation of more than 10,000 volunteers in the Galaxy Zoo Supernovae project ( We acknowledge the valuable contributions of the Zooniverse community without which this project would not have been possible. AMS acknowledges support from the Leverhulme Trust. MS acknowledges support from the Royal Society. MS and AG-Y acknowledge support from a Weizmann–UK ‘Making conenctions’ grant. CJL acknowledges support from the STFC Science in Society Program and The Leverhulme Trust. PEN acknowledges support from the US Department of Energy Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing program under contract DE-FG02-06ER06-04. KS acknowledges support from a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship grant number PF9-00069, issued by the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for and on behalf of the NASA under contract NAS8-03060. JSB acknowledges support of an NSF-CDI grant ‘Real-time Classification of Massive Time-series Data Streams’ (Award #0941742). The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, which is supported by the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231, provided staff, computational resources and data storage for this project. The William Herschel Telescope is operated on the island of La Palma by the Isaac Newton Group in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofsica de Canarias. Observations obtained with the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the PTF project: a scientific collaboration between the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Las Cumbres Observatory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the University of Oxford and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Leverhulme TrustUNSPECIFIED
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)UNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-FG02-06ER06-04
NASA Einstein FellowshipPF9-00069
Subject Keywords:methods: data analysis; surveys; supernovae: general
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110426-104725679
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Smith, A. M., Lynn, S., Sullivan, M., Lintott, C. J., Nugent, P. E., Botyanszki, J., Kasliwal, M., Quimby, R., Bamford, S. P., Fortson, L. F., Schawinski, K., Hook, I., Blake, S., Podsiadlowski, P., Jönsson, J., Gal-Yam, A., Arcavi, I., Howell, D. A., Bloom, J. S., Jacobsen, J., Kulkarni, S. R., Law, N. M., Ofek, E. O. and Walters, R. (2011), Galaxy Zoo Supernovae. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 412: 1309–1319. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.17994.x
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:23466
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:26 Apr 2011 20:53
Last Modified:27 Oct 2017 03:01

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