Publications by Chris Lintott


Planet Hunters IX. KIC 8462852-where's the flux?

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 457 (2016) 3988-4004

TS Boyajian, DM LaCourse, SA Rappaport, D Fabrycky, DA Fischer, D Gandolfi, GM Kennedy, H Korhonen, MC Liu, A Moor, K Olah, K Vida, MC Wyatt, WMJ Best, J Brewer, F Ciesla, B Csak, HJ Deeg, TJ Dupuy, G Handler, K Heng, SB Howell, ST Ishikawa, J Kovacs, T Kozakis, L Kriskovics, J Lehtinen, C Lintott, S Lynn, D Nespral, S Nikbakhsh, K Schawinski, JR Schmitt, AM Smith, G Szabo, R Szabo, J Viuho, J Wang, A Weiksnar, M Bosch, JL Connors, S Goodman, G Green, AJ Hoekstra, T Jebson, KJ Jek, MR Omohundro, HM Schwengeler, A Szewczyk


The Moon Zoo citizen science project: Preliminary results for the Apollo 17 landing site

Icarus 271 (2016) 30-48

R Bugiolacchi, S Bamford, P Tar, N Thacker, IA Crawford, KH Joy, PM Grindrod, C Lintott

© 2016 The Authors. Moon Zoo is a citizen science project that utilises internet crowd-sourcing techniques. Moon Zoo users are asked to review high spatial resolution images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), onboard NASA's LRO spacecraft, and perform characterisation such as measuring impact crater sizes and identify morphological 'features of interest'. The tasks are designed to address issues in lunar science and to aid future exploration of the Moon. We have tested various methodologies and parameters therein to interrogate and reduce the Moon Zoo crater location and size dataset against a validated expert survey. We chose the Apollo 17 region as a test area since it offers a broad range of cratered terrains, including secondary-rich areas, older maria, and uplands. The assessment involved parallel testing in three key areas: (1) filtering of data to remove problematic mark-ups; (2) clustering methods of multiple notations per crater; and (3) derivation of alternative crater degradation indices, based on the statistical variability of multiple notations and the smoothness of local image structures. We compared different combinations of methods and parameters and assessed correlations between resulting crater summaries and the expert census.We derived the optimal data reduction steps and settings of the existing Moon Zoo crater data to agree with the expert census. Further, the regolith depth and crater degradation states derived from the data are also found to be in broad agreement with other estimates for the Apollo 17 region. Our study supports the validity of this citizen science project but also recommends improvements in key elements of the data acquisition planning and production.


Extended X-ray emission in the IC 2497 – Hanny's Voorwerp system: energy injection in the gas around a fading AGN

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 457 (2016) 3629-3636

LF Sartori, K Schawinski, M Koss, E Treister, WP Maksym, WC Keel, CM Urry, CJ Lintott, OI Wong


Ideas for Citizen Science in Astronomy

ANNUAL REVIEW OF ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS, VOL 53 53 (2015) 247-278

PJ Marshall, CJ Lintott, LN Fletcher


HST IMAGING OF FADING AGN CANDIDATES. I. HOST-GALAXY PROPERTIES AND ORIGIN OF THE EXTENDED GAS

ASTRONOMICAL JOURNAL 149 (2015) ARTN 155

WC Keel, WP Maksym, VN Bennert, CJ Lintott, SD Chojnowski, A Moiseev, A Smirnova, K Schawinski, CM Urry, DA Evans, A Pancoast, B Scott, C Showley, K Flatland


Galaxy Zoo: Are bars responsible for the feeding of active galactic nuclei at 0.2 < z < 1.0?

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 447 (2015) 506-516

E Cheung, JR Trump, E Athanassoula, SP Bamford, EF Bell, A Bosma, CN Cardamone, KRV Casteels, SM Faber, JJ Fang, LF Fortson, DD Kocevski, DC Koo, S Laine, C Lintott, KL Masters, T Melvin, RC Nichol, K Schawinski, B Simmons, R Smethurst, KW Willett


The ultraviolet attenuation law in backlit spiral galaxies Based in part on observations made with the NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer. GALEX is operated for NASA by the California Institute of Technology under NASA contract NAS5-98034.

Astronomical Journal 147 (2014)

WC Keel, AM Manning, BW Holwerda, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski

The effective extinction law (attenuation behavior) in galaxies in the emitted ultraviolet (UV) regime is well known only for actively star-forming objects and combines effects of the grain properties, fine structure in the dust distribution, and relative distributions of stars and dust. We use Galaxy Evolution Explorer, XMM Optical Monitor, and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data to explore the UV attenuation in the outer parts of spiral disks which are backlit by other UV-bright galaxies, starting with the candidate list of pairs provided by Galaxy Zoo participants. New optical images help to constrain the geometry and structure of the target galaxies. Our analysis incorporates galaxy symmetry, using non-overlapping regions of each galaxy to derive error estimates on the attenuation measurements. The entire sample has an attenuation law across the optical and UV that is close to the Calzetti et al. form; the UV slope for the overall sample is substantially shallower than found by Wild et al., which is a reasonable match to the more distant galaxies in our sample but not to the weighted combination including NGC 2207. The nearby, bright spiral NGC 2207 alone gives an accuracy almost equal to the rest of our sample, and its outer arms have a very low level of foreground starlight. Thus, this widespread, fairly "gray" law can be produced from the distribution of dust alone, without a necessary contribution from differential escape of stars from dense clouds. Our results indicate that the extrapolation needed to compare attenuation between backlit galaxies at moderate redshifts from HST data, and local systems from Sloan Digital Sky Survey and similar data, is mild enough to allow the use of galaxy overlaps to trace the cosmic history of dust in galaxies. For NGC 2207, HST data in the near-UV F336W band show that the covering factor of clouds with small optical attenuation becomes a dominant factor farther into the UV, which opens the possibility that widespread diffuse dust dominates over dust in star-forming regions deep into the UV. Comparison with published radiative-transfer models indicates that the role of dust clumping dominates over differences in grain populations at this coarse spatial resolution. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


PLANET HUNTERS. VII. DISCOVERY OF A NEW LOW-MASS, LOW-DENSITY PLANET (PH3 C) ORBITING KEPLER-289 WITH MASS MEASUREMENTS OF TWO ADDITIONAL PLANETS (PH3 B AND D)

ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL 795 (2014) ARTN 167

JR Schmitt, E Agol, KM Deck, LA Rogers, JZ Gazak, DA Fischer, J Wang, MJ Holman, KJ Jek, C Margossian, MR Omohundro, T Winarski, JM Brewer, MJ Giguere, C Lintott, S Lynn, M Parrish, K Schawinski, ME Schwamb, R Simpson, AM Smith


Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skills: a novel method to evaluate surgical performance

Journal of Surgical Research (2013)

C Chen, D Holst, L White, T Kowalewski, R Aggarwal, C Lintott, B Comstock, K Kuksenok, C Aragon, T Lendvay

Background: Validated methods of objective assessments of surgical skills are resource intensive. We sought to test a web-based grading tool using crowdsourcing called Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. Materials and methods: Institutional Review Board approval was granted to test the accuracy of Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk and Facebook crowdworkers compared with experienced surgical faculty grading a recorded dry-laboratory robotic surgical suturing performance using three performance domains from a validated assessment tool. Assessor free-text comments describing their rating rationale were used to explore a relationship between the language used by the crowd and grading accuracy. Results: Of a total possible global performance score of 3-15, 10 experienced surgeons graded the suturing video at a mean score of 12.11 (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.11-13.11). Mechanical Turk and Facebook graders rated the video at mean scores of 12.21 (95% CI, 11.98-12.43) and 12.06 (95% CI, 11.57-12.55), respectively. It took 24 h to obtain responses from 501 Mechanical Turk subjects, whereas it took 24 d for 10 faculty surgeons to complete the 3-min survey. Facebook subjects (110) responded within 25 d. Language analysis indicated that crowdworkers who used negation words (i.e., "but," "although," and so forth) scored the performance more equivalently to experienced surgeons than crowdworkers who did not (P < 0.00001). Conclusions: For a robotic suturing performance, we have shown that surgery-naive crowdworkers can rapidly assess skill equivalent to experienced faculty surgeons using Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. It remains to be seen whether crowds can discriminate different levels of skill and can accurately assess human surgery performances. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Galaxy Zoo: CANDELS barred discs and bar fractions

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 445 (2014) 3466-3474

BD Simmons, T Melvin, C Lintott, KL Masters, KW Willett, WC Keel, RJ Smethurst, E Cheung, RC Nichol, K Schawinski, M Rutkowski, JS Kartaltepe, EF Bell, KRV Casteels, CJ Conselice, O Almaini, HC Ferguson, L Fortson, W Hartley, D Kocevski, AM Koekemoer, DH McIntosh, A Mortlock, JA Newman, J Ownsworth, S Bamford, T Dahlen, SM Faber, SL Finkelstein, A Fontana, A Galametz, NA Grogin, R Gruetzbauch, Y Guo, B Haeussler, KJ Jek, S Kaviraj, RA Lucas, M Peth, M Salvato, T Wiklind, S Wuyts


Crowd-sourced assessment of technical skills: A novel method to evaluate surgical performance

Journal of Surgical Research 187 (2014) 65-71

C Chen, L White, T Kowalewski, R Aggarwal, C Lintott, B Comstock, K Kuksenok, C Aragon, D Holst, T Lendvay

Background Validated methods of objective assessments of surgical skills are resource intensive. We sought to test a web-based grading tool using crowdsourcing called Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. Materials and methods Institutional Review Board approval was granted to test the accuracy of Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk and Facebook crowdworkers compared with experienced surgical faculty grading a recorded dry-laboratory robotic surgical suturing performance using three performance domains from a validated assessment tool. Assessor free-text comments describing their rating rationale were used to explore a relationship between the language used by the crowd and grading accuracy. Results Of a total possible global performance score of 3-15, 10 experienced surgeons graded the suturing video at a mean score of 12.11 (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.11-13.11). Mechanical Turk and Facebook graders rated the video at mean scores of 12.21 (95% CI, 11.98-12.43) and 12.06 (95% CI, 11.57-12.55), respectively. It took 24 h to obtain responses from 501 Mechanical Turk subjects, whereas it took 24 d for 10 faculty surgeons to complete the 3-min survey. Facebook subjects (110) responded within 25 d. Language analysis indicated that crowdworkers who used negation words (i.e., "but," "although," and so forth) scored the performance more equivalently to experienced surgeons than crowdworkers who did not (P < 0.00001). Conclusions For a robotic suturing performance, we have shown that surgery-naive crowdworkers can rapidly assess skill equivalent to experienced faculty surgeons using Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. It remains to be seen whether crowds can discriminate different levels of skill and can accurately assess human surgery performances. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


An introduction to the Zooniverse

AAAI Workshop - Technical Report WS-13-18 (2013) 103-

AM Smith, S Lynn, CJ Lintott

The Zooniverse (zooniverse.org) began in 2007 with the launch of Galaxy Zoo, a project in which more than 175,000 people provided shape analyses of more than 1 million galaxy images sourced from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. These galaxy 'classifications', some 60 million in total, have subsequently been used to produce more than 50 peer-reviewed publications based not only on the original research goals of the project but also because of serendipitous discoveries made by the volunteer community. Based upon the success of Galaxy Zoo the team have gone on to develop more than 25 web-based citizen science projects, all with a strong research focus in a range of subjects from astronomy to zoology where human-based analysis still exceeds that of machine intelligence. Over the past 6 years Zooniverse projects have collected more than 300 million data analyses from over 1 million volunteers providing fantastically rich datasets for not only the individuals working to produce research from their projects but also the machine learning and computer vision research communities. The Zooniverse platform has always been developed to be the 'simplest thing that works', implementing only the most rudimentary algorithms for functionality such as task allocation and user-performance metrics. These simplifications have been necessary to scale the Zooniverse so that the core team of developers and data scientists can remain small and the cost of running the computing infrastructure relatively modest. To date these simplifications have been acceptable for the data volumes and analysis tasks being addressed. This situation however is changing: next generation telescopes such as the Large Synoptic Sky Telescope (LSST) will produce data volumes dwarfing those previously analyzed. If citizen science is to have a part to play in analyzing these next-generation datasets then the Zooniverse will need to evolve into a smarter system capable for example of modeling the abilities of users and the complexities of the data being classified in real time. In this session we will outline the current architecture of the Zooniverse platform and introduce new functionality being developed that should be of interest to the HCOMP community. Our platform is evolving into a system capable of integrating human and machine intelligence in a live environment. Data APIs providing realtime access to 'event streams' from the Zooniverse infrastructure are currently being tested as well as API endpoints for making decisions about for example what piece of data to show next to a volunteer as well as when to retire a piece of data from the live system because a consensus has been reached.


Measuring the conceptual understandings of citizen scientists participating in zooniverse projects: A first approach

Astronomy Education Review 12 (2013)

EE Prather, S Cormier, CS Wallace, C Lintott, M Jordan Raddick, A Smith

The Zooniverse projects turn everyday people into "citizen scientists" who work online with real data to assist scientists in conducting research on a variety of topics related to galaxies, exoplanets, lunar craters, and solar flares, among others. This paper describes our initial study to assess the conceptual knowledge and reasoning abilities of citizen scientists participating in two Zooniverse projects: Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo. In order to measure their knowledge and abilities, we developed two new assessment instruments, the Zooniverse Astronomical Concept Survey (ZACS) and the Lunar Cratering Concept Inventory (LCCI). We found that citizen scientists with the highest level of participation in the Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo projects also have the highest average correct scores on the items of the ZACS and LCCI. However, the limited nature of the data provided by Zooniverse participants prevents us from being able to evaluate the statistical significance of this finding, and we make no claim about whether there is a causal relationship between one's participation in Galaxy Zoo or Moon Zoo and one's level of conceptual understanding or reasoning ability on the astrophysical topics assessed by the ZACS or the LCCI. Overall, both the ZACS and the LCCI provide Zooniverse's citizen scientists with items that offer a wide range of difficulties. Using the data from the small subset of participants who responded to all items of the ZACS, we found evidence suggesting the ZACS is a reliable instrument (α=0.78), although twenty-one of its forty items appear to have point biserials less than 0.3. The work reported here provides significant insight into the strengths and limitations of various methods for administering assessments to citizen scientists. Researchers who wish to study the knowledge and abilities of citizen scientists in the future should be sure to design their research methods to avoid the pitfalls identified by our initial findings. © 2013 The American Astronomical Society.


Erratum: Planet hunters. V. A confirmed jupiter-size planet in the habitable zone and 42 planet candidates from the kepler archive data (ApJ (2013) 776 (10))

Astrophysical Journal 778 (2013)

J Wang, DA Fischer, T Barclay, TS Boyajian, JR Crepp, ME Schwamb, C Lintott, KJ Jek, AM Smith, M Parrish, K Schawinski, JR Schmitt, MJ Giguere, JM Brewer, S Lynn, R Simpson, AJ Hoekstra, TL Jacobs, D Lacourse, HM Schwengeler, M Chopin, R Herszkowicz


Morphology in the era of large surveys

ASTRONOMY & GEOPHYSICS 54 (2013) 16-19

C Lintott, K Masters, B Simmons, S Bamford, S Kaviraj


Sir Patrick Moore, 'The Sky at Night' and modern astronomy in the UK

ASTRONOMY & GEOPHYSICS 54 (2013) 37-38

P Abel, C Lintott, M Barstow


Galaxy Zoo: Dust and molecular gas in early-type galaxies with prominent dust lanes

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 423 (2012) 49-58

S Kaviraj, YS Ting, M Bureau, SS Shabala, RM Crockett, J Silk, C Lintott, A Smith, WC Keel, KL Masters, K Schawinski, SP Bamford

We explore the properties of dust and associated molecular gas in 352 nearby (0.01 < z < 0.07) early-type galaxies (ETGs) with prominent dust lanes, drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Two-thirds of these 'dusty ETGs' (D-ETGs) are morphologically disturbed, which suggests a merger origin, making these galaxies ideal test beds for studying the merger process at low redshift. The D-ETGs preferentially reside in lower density environments, compared to a control sample drawn from the general ETG population. Around 80per cent of D-ETGs inhabit the field (compared to 60per cent of the control ETGs) and less than 2per cent inhabit clusters (compared to 10per cent of the control ETGs). Compared to their control-sample counterparts, D-ETGs exhibit bluer ultraviolet-optical colours (indicating enhanced levels of star formation) and an active galactic nucleus fraction that is more than an order of magnitude greater (indicating a strikingly higher incidence of nuclear activity). The mass of clumpy dust residing in large-scale dust features is estimated, using the SDSS r-band images, to be in the range 10 4.5-10 6.5M ⊙. A comparison to the total (clumpy + diffuse) dust masses - calculated using the far-infrared fluxes of 15per cent of the D-ETGs that are detected by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) - indicates that only 20per cent of the dust is typically contained in these large-scale dust features. The dust masses are several times larger than the maximum value expected from stellar mass loss, ruling out an internal origin. The dust content shows no correlation with the blue luminosity, indicating that it is not related to a galactic scale cooling flow. Furthermore, no correlation is found with the age of the recent starburst, suggesting that the dust is accreted directly in the merger rather than being produced in situ by the triggered star formation. Using molecular gas-to-dust ratios of ETGs in the literature, we estimate that the median current molecular gas fraction in the IRAS-detected ETGs is ∼1.3per cent. Adopting reasonable values for gas depletion time-scales and starburst ages, the median initial gas fraction in these D-ETGs is ∼4per cent. Recent work has suggested that the merger © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Galaxy Zoo: Dust lane early-type galaxies are tracers of recent, gas-rich minor mergers

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 423 (2012) 59-67

SS Shabala, YS Ting, S Kaviraj, C Lintott, RM Crockett, J Silk, M Sarzi, K Schawinski, SP Bamford, E Edmondson

We present the second of two papers concerning the origin and evolution of local early-type galaxies exhibiting dust features. We use optical and radio data to examine the nature of active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity in these objects, and compare these with a carefully constructed control sample. We find that dust lane early-type galaxies are much more likely to host emission-line AGN than the control sample galaxies. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between radio and emission-line AGN activity in dust lane early types, but not the control sample. Dust lane early-type galaxies show the same distribution of AGN properties in rich and poor environments, suggesting a similar triggering mechanism. By contrast, this is not the case for early types with no dust features. These findings strongly suggest that dust lane early-type galaxies are starburst systems formed in gas-rich mergers. Further evidence in support of this scenario is provided by enhanced star formation and black hole accretion rates in these objects. Dust lane early types therefore represent an evolutionary stage between starbursting and quiescent galaxies. In these objects, the AGN has already been triggered but has not as yet completely destroyed the gas reservoir required for star formation. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Galaxy Zoo: The environmental dependence of bars and bulges in disc galaxies

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 423 (2012) 1485-1502

RA Skibba, KL Masters, RC Nichol, I Zehavi, B Hoyle, EM Edmondson, SP Bamford, CN Cardamone, WC Keel, C Lintott, K Schawinski

We present an analysis of the environmental dependence of bars and bulges in disc galaxies, using a volume-limited catalogue of 15810 galaxies at z < 0.06 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with visual morphologies from the Galaxy Zoo 2 project. We find that the likelihood of having a bar, or bulge, in disc galaxies increases when the galaxies have redder (optical) colours and larger stellar masses, and observe a transition in the bar and bulge likelihoods at M *= 2 × 10 10M ⊙, such that massive disc galaxies are more likely to host bars and bulges. In addition, while some barred and most bulge-dominated galaxies are on the 'red sequence' of the colour-magnitude diagram, we see a wider variety of colours for galaxies that host bars. We use galaxy clustering methods to demonstrate statistically significant environmental correlations of barred, and bulge-dominated, galaxies, from projected separations of 150kpch -1 to 3Mpch -1. These environmental correlations appear to be independent of each other: i.e. bulge-dominated disc galaxies exhibit a significant bar-environment correlation, and barred disc galaxies show a bulge-environment correlation. As a result of sparse sampling tests - our sample is nearly 20 times larger than those used previously - we argue that previous studies that did not detect a bar-environment correlation were likely inhibited by small number statistics. We demonstrate that approximately half of the bar-environment correlation can be explained by the fact that more massive dark matter haloes host redder disc galaxies, which are then more likely to have bars; this fraction is estimated to be 50 ± 10per cent from a mock catalogue analysis and 60 ± 5per cent from the data. Likewise, we show that the environmental dependence of stellar mass can only explain a smaller fraction (25 ± 10per cent) of the bar-environment correlation. Therefore, a significant fraction of our observed environmental dependence of barred galaxies is not due to colour or stellar mass dependences, and hence must be due to another galaxy property, such as gas content, or to environmental influences. Finally, by analysing the projected clustering of barred and unbarred disc galaxies with halo occupation models, we argue that barred galaxies are in slightly higher mass haloes than unbarred ones, and some of them (approximately 25per cent) are satellite galaxies in groups. We discuss the implications of our results on the effects of minor mergers and interactions on bar formation in disc galaxies. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Tidal dwarf galaxies in the nearby Universe

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 419 (2012) 70-79

S Kaviraj, D Darg, C Lintott, K Schawinski, J Silk

We present a statistical observational study of the tidal dwarf (TD) population in the nearby Universe by exploiting a large, homogeneous catalogue of galaxy mergers compiled from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. 95percent of TD-producing mergers involve two spiral progenitors (typically both in the blue cloud), while most remaining systems have at least one spiral progenitor. The fraction of TD-producing mergers where both parents are early-type galaxies is less than 2percent, suggesting that TDs are unlikely to form in such mergers. The bulk of TD-producing mergers inhabit a field environment and have mass ratios greater than ~1:7 (the median value is 1:2.5). TDs forming at the tidal-tail tips are ~4 times more massive than those forming at the base of the tails. TD stellar masses are less than 10percent of the stellar masses of their parents (the median is 0.6percent) and lie within 15 optical half-light radii of their parent galaxies. The TD population is typically bluer than the parents, with a median offset of ~0.3mag in the (g-r) colour and the TD colours are not affected by the presence of active galactic nuclei (AGN) activity in their parents. An analysis of their star formation histories indicates that TDs contain both newly formed stars (with a median age of ~30Myr) and old stars drawn from the parent discs, each component probably contributing roughly equally to the stellar mass of the object. Thus TDs are not formed purely through gas condensation in tidal tails but host a significant component of old stars from the parent discs. Finally, an analysis of the TD contribution to the observed dwarf-to-massive galaxy ratio in the local Universe indicates that ~6percent of dwarfs in nearby clusters may have a tidal origin, if TD production rates in nearby mergers are representative of those in the high-redshift Universe. Even if TD production rates at high redshift were several factors higher, it seems unlikely that the entire dwarf galaxy population today is a result of merger activity over the lifetime of the Universe. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.