Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Public maps out an A to Z of galaxies

Date:
September 11, 2012
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
Members of the public have constructed an A to Z of galaxies in the night sky. Volunteers participating in the Galaxy Zoo project have been helping scientists gain new insights by classifying galaxies seen in hundreds of thousands of telescope images as spiral or elliptical. Along the way they've also stumbled across odd-looking galaxies which resemble each letter of the alphabet.

A penguin-shaped galaxy identified by Galaxy Zoo volunteers.
Credit: © Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Members of the public have constructed an A to Z of galaxies in the night sky.

Volunteers participating in the Galaxy Zoo project have been helping scientists gain new insights by classifying galaxies seen in hundreds of thousands of telescope images as spiral or elliptical. Along the way they've also stumbled across odd-looking galaxies which resemble each letter of the alphabet.

The international team behind Galaxy Zoo, including astronomers from Oxford University, are inviting people to be involved in more discoveries as they launch a new incarnation of the site at http://galaxyzoo.org.

From today, the site includes more than 250,000 new images of galaxies, most of which have never been seen by humans. By classifying them, volunteers will add to our understanding of the processes which shaped our universe.

'We'd like to thank all those that have taken part in Galaxy Zoo in the past five years. Humans are better than computers at pattern recognition tasks like this, and we couldn't have got so far without everyone's help,' says Galaxy Zoo principal investigator Dr Chris Lintott from the University of Oxford. 'Now we've got a new challenge and we'd like to encourage volunteers old and new to get involved. You don't have to be an expert -- in fact we've found not being an expert tends to make you better at this task. There are too many images for us to inspect ourselves, but by asking hundreds of thousands of people to help us we can find out what's lurking in the data.'

More than 250,000 people have taken part in the Galaxy Zoo project since its launch in 2007, sorting through over 1 million images. Their findings have ranged from the scientifically exciting to the weird and wonderful.

Among the spiral and elliptical galaxies that the volunteers have characterised and classified, they have found an entire alphabet of galaxies. Galaxy Zoo team member Dr Steven Bamford of the University of Nottingham has created a website at www.mygalaxies.co.uk where anyone can write their name in the stars.

The team are also keen to add more animals to the volunteers' celestial zoo, having found a convincing penguin-shaped galaxy.

Along with the quirky appeal of such findings, the researchers suggest such unusual formations may also tell us something about what happens when galaxies collide.

The new images on the Galaxy Zoo site come from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a ground-based telescope in New Mexico, and from large surveys with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronomer and Galaxy Zoo team member Kevin Schawinski from ETH Zurich in Switzerland says: 'The two sources of data work together perfectly: the new images from Sloan give us our most detailed view of the local universe, while the CANDELS survey from the Hubble telescope allows us to look deeper into the universe's past than ever before.'

The team are hoping that the hard work of volunteers on the new site will allow data from the two telescopes to be compared, offering insights into how nearby galaxies as we see them today may have arisen from how the universe looked in the past.

Dr Karen Masters from the University of Portsmouth, another team member, explains: 'In astronomy, we're lucky enough to get to see both the past and the present of the universe. By comparing the two, we can try to understand the forces which have shaped the formation of the galaxies in it, including our own Milky Way.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Public maps out an A to Z of galaxies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911091704.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2012, September 11). Public maps out an A to Z of galaxies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911091704.htm
University of Oxford. "Public maps out an A to Z of galaxies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911091704.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Astronomers Spot Largest, Brightest Solar Flare Ever

Astronomers Spot Largest, Brightest Solar Flare Ever

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — The initial blast from the record-setting explosion would have appeared more than 10,000 times more powerful than any flare ever recorded. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Apple fans in France discover the latest toy, the Apple Watch. The watch comes in two sizes and an array of interchangeable, fashionable wrist straps. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Michigan simulated the birth of planets and our sun to determine whether water in the solar system predates the sun. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, including the first woman cosmonaut in 17 years, blasted off on schedule Friday. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins