Gaia in the UK

Taking the Galactic Census

Selected science alerts

These are similar to the transient events which will trigger the Gaia alerts which will start later this year.

The Gaia satellite will be a great way to discover astronomical objects which change in brightness in an exciting and not repeatable way, called transient objects. Transients include explosions of stars known as supernovae (see Exploding stars for details) and cataclysmic variables, which are a class of binary star system containing at least one white dwarf which is stealing gas from a companion star (see more Cataclysmic Variables section on Variable stars page).

Gaia will discover many new transients as it scans the sky but will not be able to follow these objects to see how they are changing with time. This means it will be difficult to figure out exactly what the transient objects are using Gaia data alone.

To do this we need help - YOU!

Our “Gaia science alerts”, to be published on this website, will provide the positions and brightnesses of transients detected by Gaia. Amateur astronomers , using their own telescopes, and schools, using robotic telescopes controlled from the classroom, can then make observations of the transients to try to identify what they really are. One object per week should be bright enough for these classes of telescope to observe.

Here we are illustrating how this will work using objects detected by other surveys as Gaia is not yet ready to begin detecting transient objects (it is still undergoing tests to check it works well for the rest of the mission).

During the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (RSSSE, see our RSSSE page) we will be showing people how to use the Faulkes (Faulkes North - Hawaii (Mauna Kea) and Faulkes South - Australia (Siding Spring); see http://www.faulkes-telescope.com/) and PIRATE (Mallorca; see http://pirate.open.ac.uk/) telescopes to look at transients. On this page we have a list of the positions of new transient objects and their brightnesses as they appear to us. In the final column of the table we will show the measurements of the brightness of the transient object – taken from observations which the public are helping us make during the RSSSE. The plot of the brightness of an object against the time of measurement is called a light curve, and tells us which broad category of astronomical object we are looking at.

These light curves will be updated with real data, which you can come along and see us taking during the RSSSE!

Selected targets
ID

Date

Discovered

RADec

Magni-

tude

Survey

Discovered

Host GalaxyLight curve
SN2014bc20/05/1412 18 57.7147 18 11.314.8PanSTARRS M106 
J14595  21/05/1414 59 59.471 47 6.215.7CRTSNGC 5806 
J1502413/05/1415 2 49.9648 47 6.216.2

Gagliano/

Newton/

Puckett

NGC 5835 
SN2014bb09/05/1413 32 49.1141 52 15.116.2ISSPNGC 5214 
SN2014bu17/06/141 20 58.4521 59 59.816.2MonardNGC 694 
SN2014az20/05/1423 32 22.8515 51 10.616.6ASASSNNGC 7691 
SN2014ay19/05/1417 55 5.4318 15 26.416.7ASASSNUGC 11037 
ASASSN-14bd24/05/1412 52 44.8626 28 12.416.7ASASSNIC 831 
SN2014bw10/06/1416 55 44.7726 15 28.616.8ISSPPGC 59263 
ASASSN-14az20/05/1423 44 48-2 7 3.214.5ASAS-SNANON 
iPTF14bdn27/05/1413 30 44.8832 45 42.414.7iPTFUGC 8503 
J0344227/05/143 44 23.99-44 40 8.114.7MonardNGC 1448 
2014bt31/05/1421 43 11.13-38 58 5.816.7BOSSIC 5128 
2014ay19/05/1417 55 5.4318 15 26.416.7ASAS-SNUGC 11037 
ASASSN-14db22/06/1422 2 1.85-70 2 26.216.3ASAS-SNESO 75-G49 

SDSSJ205406.79
+011537.2

--20 54 06.76401 15 37.3914.7

(ID 3352291 in
Suveges+ 2012)

Milky Way 

Key to the surveys:

Downolad targets list spreadsheet (OpenDocument Spreadsheet format)

Page last updated: 11 March 2015