Sensing the Dynamic Universe

What are the goals of the SDU project?

The project seeks to make accessible to the widest possible audience the marvelous diversity of celestial variables with a taste of the astrophysics that makes them vary. SDU wants to help you sense, understand and appreciate many types of variables, including single stars, binary stars, neutron stars, black holes, supernovae, quasars and more.

What are the contents of the SDU website?

Every page of the Sensing the Dynamic Universe (SDU) project has a menu at the top of the page that links to this home page and the main sub-pages of Key Concepts, Types of Variables and Glossary. Exploring the content within Key Concepts will give you a valuable introduction before diving into the rest of the website. From Types of Variables, you can navigate through web pages to learn about astronomical variables and transients and experience videos of their sonified light curves and spectra. If you get lost deep in the variable tree, just go back to Types of Variables again using the top menu. All of the videos on the website were made using sonoUno. sonoUno is a software to create sound representations of visual data.

How do we "sense" the Universe?

Modern astronomy uses many different kinds of telescopes and instruments to measure both light (electromagnetic) waves and gravitational waves from space. Energy from these waves must be translated into a form that humans can sense or measure. Most of the electromagnetic spectrum that comes to Earth from space cannot be sensed by the human eye; that includes radio, microwave, infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma ray energies. Different ways of sensing these waves, and different modes of presenting the information enhance our understanding of the incredibly diverse phenomena in the Universe.

How is the Universe "dynamic"?

The Universe is 13.6 billion years old. Our Sun is 5 billion years old. There are billions of galaxies like our own Milky Way, and each galaxy is composed of billions of stars like the Sun. Most celestial objects do not change within a human lifespan. However, there are many types of celestial objects that do. These variable or transient objects provide special insight into a wide range of astrophysical phenomena.

If you are interested in where these real astronomical data comes from, and who helped put the SDU project together, visit our page on Data Sources, Credits and Acknowledgments.

Please send us your comments, feedback or suggestions! CONTACT US: sdu@cfa.harvard.edu