The Disk Detective project invites you to help search for disks of gas and dust around nearby stars, places where exoplanets form and dwell. This project entered a new phase last week—Disk Detective 2.1—posting a new batch of data you can help analyze. The latest data are thousands of images of nearby stars, targeting young star-forming regions and providing a better view of extreme disks in the Galactic plane.
“I’ve been waiting for weeks for this new data,” said Citizen scientist Alisha Jamal, a 9th grader from the United Arab Emirates. “I’m thrilled for what this new batch is going to uncover about the universe. I hope it wins us some JWST time!”
The Disk Detective project has made several significant discoveries already, including the “Peter Pan” disk phenomenon. Peter Pan disks retain their gas 2 to 10 times longer than other disks. The newly posted data—focused on stars that are brighter than expected at a wavelength of 12 microns—should help locate more of those long-lived Peter Pan disks.
Tens of thousands of volunteers have contributed to Disk Detective, and more than 14 Disk Detectives have co-authored refereed scientific publications so far. Several citizen scientists also took part in designing the new Disk Detective website! To join in the search, go to diskdetective.org.