In A105 Stars and Galaxies, you have the opportunity to participate in original research to discover novae in the nearby galaxy Andromeda (M31). M31 is the nearest large spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy.

You can discover novae using digital images of the Andromeda Galaxy obtained with the WIYN 0.9-m telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona. New images will be obtained during the semester during observing runs on which students may participate remotely via videoconferencing. The new images of the central portion of the Andromeda Galaxy will be available on this website shortly after our scheduled observing runs. Sign up in class to attend a remote observing session.

To participate in the project start by following the link below to explore the datasets available from previous years. Once we have new data download the worksheet, and start searching for new discoveries!

To begin:
  • Explore the Other Information to find out more about novae, observing, the magnitude scale, and the Andromeda Galaxy.

  • Peruse a high resolution image of the Andromeda Galaxy here. Drag the red box to see different parts of the galaxy.

  • Open this page to explore the data. The data comprise a large file, and a high bandwidth link is needed to view the images of Andromeda. Work from campus or use a high bandwidth connection from off campus. A modem is too slow to access the data. Flash Player also required to examine the data. If you need to download Flash Player, you can find it here.

  • Select a quadrant (northeast, northwest, southeast, or southwest) to search for novae.

  • Run the time-lapse movies for different years' data available for the quadrant you selected to find "new" stars that appear and then fade away.

  • Help information is available using the green "question" button on the data page.

  • Print the worksheets (NovaSearch_I.pdf, NovaSearch_II.pdf, or NovaSearch_III.pdf), and follow the instructions, including plotting "light curves" for the novae you discover, to complete the NovaSearch project. Locate at least three new novae in the data, measure their magnitudes, and plot their light curves. (Educators may wish to download the Word documents for modifications appropriate for their own courses: NovaSearch_I.doc, NovaSearch_II.doc, or NovaSearch_III.doc.)

  • You will need to convert the dates on which your novae are first seen into Julian days to plot a light curve. You can do that here.

  • Can you find any variable stars in the images?

NovaSearch Home | Indiana University Astronomy | Indiana University Bloomington