I present the citizen science project Redshift Wrangler, designed to use the contributions of volunteers to analyze large samples of galaxy data and build a repository of spectroscopic measurements for various analyses. When we know how to read it, the spectrum of a galaxy can tell the story of its stellar population, distance, and interactions with any close companion galaxies. Through Redshift Wrangler, citizen science measurements become our main tool for extracting information from enormous quantities of collected spectra. Several main goals motivate this work: first, designing and launching Redshift Wrangler on citizen science platform Zooniverse to bring more people motivated by curiosity or the desire to be involved in research into our scientific process. Second, I determine redshifts from user measurements of key features in the spectra to compare them with existing values, checking the quality of our program and improving our methods as we go. Finally, by confirming fits to the emission and absorption lines and using those fits to estimate line fluxes, I will be able to constrain physical properties like star formation rate, metallicity, and AGN content of galaxies. Our initial results are based on measurements taken during the beta testing phase of Redshift Wrangler, complemented by initial outcomes from the first post-launch month. Redshift Wrangler engages volunteers irrespective of their prior expertise to contribute to analyzing the immense datasets beyond the capacity of individual research teams or individuals. This method can lower uncertainties from human error, as we allow for more human eyes on measurements that we cannot yet automate, and we can also work to include a broader segment of the public in scientific discourse.
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Physics and Astronomy, School of
College of Science
Coffin, Sadie C., "Redshift Wrangler: Conducting a Citizen Science Study of Extragalactic Spectroscopy" (2023). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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