Galaxies are made of stars — but where do these stars come from? Most stars form in star clusters rather than in isolation. Many star clusters then fall apart over time, their stars spreading out to form the galaxy as a whole.
This is the central theme of the Star Date: M83 citizen science project: to better understand the life cycle of star clusters, from infancy to old age and from formation to destruction. To do this we need to estimate the ages of star clusters and then study how many clusters there are at each age. Along the way we will also learn more about the host galaxy itself, particularly how star clusters form along its spiral arms.
In Project Star Date M83, citizen scientists will pair their discerning eye with the Hubble telescope’s detailed images to identify the ages of the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy’s (M83) many star clusters. This info helps researchers learn how star clusters are born, evolve and eventually fall apart in spiral galaxies.