60-Second Science

Help Hunt Distant Galaxies at Home

You can help astronomers find faint and distant galaxies on your home computer by joining a search called "Space Warps." Karen Hopkin reports

It takes a village to raise a child. Well, the same is true for finding what are called “space warps.” That’s according to astrophysicists who are calling for volunteers to aid in the search for gravitational lenses: astronomical objects so massive that they bend light around themselves, appearing to warp the fabric of space.

Aside from being wicked cool, this light-bending ability means gravitational lenses act like space-based magnifying glasses, which gives scientists a zoomed-in view of even more distant galaxies. And sheds light on the makeup of the lenses themselves. The more they distort light, the more dark matter they contain.

An international team of scientists launched the project in May and they’ll be hosting a live Google hangout June 5th at 5 P.M. U.S. Eastern time to call people to the hunt. More info’s at Questions can be submitted via e-mail to the Kavli Foundation or on Twitter using the hashtag #KavliAstro.

If you miss the Webcast, go to to take part and learn how to spot the telltale signs of gravitational lensing in telescopic surveys. The images have already been scanned by computers. But the scientists want your eyes on those skies.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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