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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 29 August, 2014

Trinity College astrophysicists want you to play ‘Hot or Not’ with sunspots

Yes, really.

SCIENTISTS AT TRINITY College Dublin are inviting the public to rate the complexity of sunspots.

As part of the Sunspotter project, members of the public will work as part of a global team to better understand sunspot and solar storm phenomena and their impacts on Earth.

They will do this by ‘rating’ the relative complexity of each sunspot image they see on the Sunspotter website, based on its size, shape and arrangement of ‘magnetic blobs’.

The website was launched in Ireland in February, with astrophysicists releasing a new set of over 250,000 sunspot images for people to work through.

Each of the 13,000 images released in February was classified more than 50 times in a single month.

Due to the success of the first phase, and to the staggering amount of data still to work through, the team hopes people from across the globe will now get involved.

Solar flare expert and Irish Research Council Research Fellow in Trinity’s Astrophysics Research Group in the School of Physics, Dr Paul Higgins, is the lead scientist on the project.

He says that the project uses a similar algorithm as that used on the “Hot or Not” website.

“Humans can easily compare two objects, like a skateboard and a lorry and decide, ‘this one is more complex’, but this is beyond current computer software.

“With Sunspotter, people are literally playing a game of ‘Hot or Not’ with sunspots,” added Dr Higgins.

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