AI is often touted as being particularly good at finding patterns amongst reams of data. But humans also are extremely good at pattern recognition, especially when it comes to visual images. Citizen science efforts around the globe leverage this fact, and recent results released from the Milky Way Project on Zooinverse show how effective it can be. The project’s volunteer team identified 6,176 “yellowballs”, which are a stage that star clusters go through during their early years. That discovery helps scientists better understand the formation of these clusters and how they eventually grow into individualized stars.
This isn’t the first time these features have been studied. The search actually started in 2011, with a relatively innocuous message on a message board for the Milky Way Project : “Any ideas what these bright yellow fuzzy objects are?” With that began the collective search for these newly found yellow smudges that eventually became known as yellowballs. Over the last few years, a catalogue of these objects has been growing, with the occasional peer reviewed paper presenting the results form the citizen science efforts.
NASA Video describing the Yellowballs citizen scientists found.Credit: ScienceAtNASA YouTube Channel
That effort has resulted in a much better ...