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How many protostellar systems are there in our galaxy? This lab will allow you to become a citizen
scientist, via the Zooniverse project, using real astronomical data to help answer this question. You will
view images of protostellar system candidates photographed in various wavelengths by various
telescope surveys, including Digitized Sky Survey (DSS2), Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) and NASA?s
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). Your objective is to look for distinguishing traits in the
objects you view, discerning between debris disks and similar looking objects.
To get started, go to and click on ?Get involved now? to view the available
projects. Click on ?Disk Detective? and open the drop-down menu to access background information.
Read the introductory material in the various tabs. This information will help you to write the
introduction section in your lab report.
When you have a good understanding of what is going on in this project, click on ?Classify? to enter the
pages where you will take a short tutorial and then begin classifying objects found in the image
sequences. Click on ?Start tutorial? to get an idea of how to tell a debris disk from similar looking
objects. You will see a set of image of the same object, taken by different instruments and prompts to
distinguish its characteristics. Click on the icon ?Show Example Images? to view image sequences of
debris disks as well as other kinds of objects that are not star/disk systems, like galaxies and nebulae.
Then go ahead and start classifying objects. If you are not sure about an image sequence, you will have
the option to discuss it via posting in a science discussion or chat.
Keep track of your observations. You can do this via excel spreadsheet or any other kind of table. Include
your data table in your results section. How many objects do you need to view? This is up to you. How
many views do you feel that you need to be able to draw conclusions about the population of debris
disks among similar-looking objects? It is a good idea to take some notes as you are classifying objects,
to include in your analysis.
You will need to write up your findings in a lab report. Basically, the lab report will answer these
? What did I do?
? How did I do it?
? What did I find?
What did I do: This will make up the ?Introduction? portion of your lab report. Describe the project.
Here, you should include a bit of a discussion of the science involved. Why is it interesting? In this lab, it
would be appropriate to briefly describe the different types of objects and how you can discern between
them. Include a hypothesis. What do you expect to find? The introduction should be about half a page
How did I do it: This is the ?Procedure? section of the lab report, to follow the Introduction. This should
consist of a description of the actual work that you did. Do not assume that the reader already knows
what is going on. A good way to think of your audience is to assume that you are writing to a friend who
will be doing this lab project. Include enough information to make it clear to your friend just what needs
to be done. This part could also be done in about half a page.
What I found: This is your ?Results? section. Here is where you include your data and analysis. How
many objects did you view? How many of each kind? How did your results compare with your
hypothesis? What difficulties were there? What did you learn, in general? This part should be about a
Finally, include a brief summary paragraph. Your whole lab report should be 2-3 pages, single-spaced.


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