Great Galactic Voyage: Nebula Hunt

Orion Nebula, stars, astronomy, Eyewire, citizen science, Great Galactic Voyage, Nurro, NASA

The next stop on our journey through the Milky Way is the Orion Nebula, one of the closest nebulae to our Solar System where massive stars are formed out of gas and dust. If stars are birthed in nebulae, how big is this one? Pretty darn big. It’s 24 light years across and contains 2,000 times more mass than our Sun! At that size, you can actually see it with the naked eye; it forms what looks like the middle “star” in Orion’s Sword. Get a telescope like the Hubble, of course, and you see something much wilder.

To explore the Orion Nebula this week, we’ve released some merger stars in among the normal ones. Spot them if you can! There are 12 mergers in the Hunt cell; you have 5.5 days and 24 guesses to locate them all, between midnight EDT on 6/22 and noon EDT on 6/27.

How to identify and report mergers

    1. Select Hunt cell from Change Cell menu. Stay in the overview.
    2. Type /debug into chat. This will reveal a special box with information about the cell (located above the “Start Playing” box).
    3. Use ALT+click to select the origin point of the merger you have identified. It is a good idea to zoom in close on the merger before you select it to get the most accurate coordinates.
    4. Find the coordinates of the merger’s origin in the cell information box. These are next to the word “center.”
    5. In the chat pm thehunt bot your coordinates. For example: /pm thehunt 5123 4321 5678.
    6. thehunt bot will let you know if you got it right or wrong and tell you how many guesses you have left.
    7. To check how many mergers you have found and to check what guesses you have submitted, type “/pm thehunt !list”; the bot will give you a list of all the coordinates you have guessed, and whether or not there was a merger at each set of coordinates. A + means there was a merger there, a means there was not a merger there.
    8. If you accidentally submit the same coordinate a second time, it does not count as two guesses.

Do not reveal your coordinates to other players. Do not do anything against the spirit of the Hunt. Anyone caught cheating will be automatically disqualified from the event and will not receive any points.

Proximity to merger start point is determined by number of voxels (1 voxel = approx. 1/250th of a cube’s width). Mergers are only counted as found if guessed within a distance of 250 voxels. Pieces of dust floating in space don’t count as mergers, so please don’t report them! We also do not count fused mergers that could not be removed during the Hunt prep process.

Swag (generously sponsored by @susi): The top scoring player will win 1 pack of glow-in-the-dark stars and 1 patch! Any player who finds at least 5 mergers will also win a patch. (Based on previous Hunts, 5+ mergers tends to mean an above-average score.)

Bonus info is available in your in-game notifications. Good luck, and happy hunting!

Artwork by Daniela Gamba
(Image source: NASA)