Science Projects


Hunting Outbursting Young Stars with the Centre of Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences (HOYS-CAPS)

This is a Citizens Science Project run by the University of Kent and aims to observe nearby, young star clusters and star forming regions visible from the northern hemisphere to study the variable brightness of forming young stars. The target list currently contains 9 young clusters visible in the winter and 8 targets for the summer skies. The project will run for about 20 years to obtain long term results, however shorter time magnitude fluctuations have already been seen from the data so far collected (See below).

Ideally the project would like to have an image of all targets every day of the year. The need for as many Observatories/Clubs/Individuals to take images will reduce the problems of cloudy skies over parts of the country. The premise is, if there are observers all over the country at least one site might have clear skies on any given night for images to be taken, hence the involvement of us here at the Hampshire Astronomical Group.

HAG are regular contributors to this Citizens Science Project. Members forward their images of the targets taken with either the Group’s telescopes and camera equipment, or using their own telescopes from their home locations. These are added to the Kent University Database for subsequent analysis by PHD students, and some results have already been published in scientific papers and Journals. As of January 2019, the project has 82,963,251 brightness measurements in their database from 7718 processed images, a proportion of which were submitted by HAG members.

Here is just one result of recent observations. This is the area around the star V2492Cyg in the Pelican Nebula in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan. The image on the right was taken in October 2018, and on the left in February 2019. As can be seen the star faded by more than 5 magnitudes, most likely due to dust in the circumstellar disk, from which the young star has formed, moving between the star and us here on earth.