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A team of researchers at the Center for Data Driven Discovery, California Institute of Technology has developed ZARTH app that allows anyone with a smartphone to ‘hunt’ for transients.

  • The ZTF Augmented Reality Transient Hunter ( ZARTH) is built along the lines of the augmented reality mobile game.
  • It allows the user to do serious science while playing a game.
  • The app uses the open-source Sky Map and adds data daily from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF)’s robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California.
  • Palomar is also home to one of the oldest, largest, and most powerful telescopes in the world: the 200-inch Hale reflector.
  • The ZTF scans the entire northern sky every two days and uses the data to make large area sky maps that have important applications in tracking near-earth asteroids and studying supernovae.
  • The app is loaded daily with transients detected in real-time by the ZTF.
  • The transients include flaring stars (variable stars that flare up for a short while), white dwarf binaries (burnt remains of dead stars that orbit one another and often merge and explode in supernovae), active galactic nuclei, and several other types.
  • The app ranks transients by their rarity and importance, and players can compete with each other to score points and earn daily credits, which are duly listed on the leaderboards.
  • Transients refer to astronomical phenomena with durations of fractions of a second to weeks or years.
  • Typically they are extreme, short-lived events associated with the total or partial destruction of an astrophysical object.