HOYS Citizen Science

Newsletter Contents

Welcome to the HOYS newsletter for April 2021. Happy Easter everyone. This is a general newsletter including progress on the HOYS-LCO project. We do discuss the following:
  • General Project Update
  • Science Exploitation
  • A New HOYS Citizen Science Feature
  • Future Planning
  • Summer Observing Priorities
  • Sponsoring of our Website
Thank you everyone for your contributions!

General Project Update

We have now collected over 41600 images and stored about 166 million brightness measurements in our database. This is a big increase compared to the last newsletter in October 2020 and hence a huge thank you goes out to everyone who provided data over the last six months. We were also able to welcome seven new active participants to the project. The detailed target by target statistics are always available at the database server website. Please keep imaging all regions in all filters as often as you can. Note the priority call below.
The observations with the LCO by our participants are also continuing. We have switched to a two day cadence and by mid April will be able to go back to our original target IC5146 (the Cocoon Nebula). Until then, we will continue with NGC2264 (the Christmas Tree Cluster). The three winners of our picture competition are still working hard to decide which targets they are going to image in their observing time.
HOYS Database Image Statistics
Fig.: Cumulative number of images observed for HOYS and uploaded to our database.

Science Exploitation

We are making very good progress with the general paper on finding rotation periods of young stars in the Pelican Nebula (IC5070) field. We have identified 60 periodic variables and have almost finished the first complete draft of the paper. The invitation email to be a co-author has been send out to everyone who provided data for this paper (i.e. useful images send in for the field prior to June 2020). We are still missing a number of replies, so please check your spam folder (just in case), or drop us an email if you think you should have gotten an invitation.
This paper is planned to form the basis for two further publications. One will investigate the spot properties (size, temperature) causing the observed variations, and finally we will look into the evolution of these spots. Furthermore, we have started to draft a paper on three variable objects in the Sigma-Ori field and advanced our planning for publications on several individual, interesting objects.
IC5070 colour magnitude diagram
Fig.: Colour Magnitude diagram of stars in the IC5070 field. The coloured symbols are the objects for which we identified periodic variability. The symbol size is proportional to the period and the colour code is the parallax in milli-arcseconds. The young star cluster has a parallax of approximately 1.2mas, hence is at a distance of about 800pc or 2400 light years.

A New HOYS Citizen Science Feature

Our HOYS-LCO project aims to teach our participants not just to take their own data with remote robotic telescopes and how to add it to our database. We also have made instruction videos how to explore the HOYS light curves and even how to determine periods. We have since had several requests from participants if the exploration of light curves can be done in a systematic, collaborative way. Thanks to a huge effort by one of our participants (thanks Robin!) we are now ready to start this new exciting part of the project.
We have set up an online spread sheet that allows direct access to the HOYS light curves and other information for candidate young stars in the HOYS fields. We ask for volunteers to investigate these objects and their light curves to decide if they are variable or not. If they are we ask to check if the objects show outbursts, dimming events, random variability or even periodic behaviour. We further ask to check images to see if there are potentially other close-by stars that could influence our brightness measurements.
There are multiple aims to this project: i) Participants to explore and learn about our data, discover interesting variables and potentially do their own even more detailed analysis; ii) for us to learn how a future, large scale citizen science project with HOYS data could/should be set up (see below).
Thus, if you like to participate in this trial project and are happy to try out the process and give us feedback then please get in touch. We will then provide you with detailed instructions and the link to the online spread sheet.

Future Planning

With the ever increasing amount of HOYS data, there are more possibilities for science exploitation. We have hence recently submitted a grant application for post-doc funding to explore occultation events by dust in accretion disks around young stars in HOYS data. The application also requests funding to set up and conduct a large citizen science project to help us characterise the HOYS light curves. Furthermore, we also plan an overhaul of the database server to improve the accessibility (lower the time it takes to search for a light curve) and to create an alert system for outburst and dimming events. Fingers crossed.

Observing Priorities for the Summer

Our usual request to observe all targets once a night in all filters remains of course in place. The winter targets are now mostly gone from view but our summer targets become available later in the night, so the focus will change to them.
The 'strange' outbursting star 2MASS J21383981+5708470 in the Elephant Trunk Nebula field (IC1396A) is due it's next outburst. Hence, if possible this field could be observed with a higher priority. Note that this object is usually just outside most peoples field of view when they point at the nominal HOYS coordinates for the IC1396A field. Thus, if you want to include the source, point at: 21 38 39.8 +57 08 47 (J2000) and submit it for the IC1396A field. You are welcome to also take a second set of images for the nominal coordinates.
Mass Accretion Rates
Fig.: An undergraduate student has modelled the two well observed outbursts (top row) of the object as mass accretion events in a disk around a massive (spectral type B) star and determined the mass accretion rates during the bursts (bottom row). We are interested to see if the initial humps seen in both bursts are a feature of the object, hence it is important to catch the start of the next burst in detail.

Sponsoring of our Website

Our website hosting (including this newsletter system) and the use of the hoys.space domain is currently funded by Cygnus Extra. The renewal for both is due in a couple of weeks. This amounts to £35.40+VAT for the webhosting and £9.99+VAT for the domain. If you or your company would like to sponsor one or both of these costs for the next year please get in touch. We will acknowledge this with notes and links at the bottom of all our webpages.
HOYS Citizen Science
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