Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Enormous catalog of more than 300,000 nearby galaxies

Date:
September 23, 2013
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
More than 83,000 volunteer citizen scientists. Over 16 million galaxy classifications. Information on more than 300,000 galaxies. This is what you get when you ask the public for help in learning more about our universe.

This galaxy, NGC 4565, is a disk galaxy viewed at nearly an edge-on angle. Galaxies like these are of particular interest for their links to star formation and the speeds at which galaxies rotate.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Minnesota

More than 83,000 volunteer citizen scientists. Over 16 million galaxy classifications. Information on more than 300,000 galaxies. This is what you get when you ask the public for help in learning more about our universe.

The project, named Galaxy Zoo 2, is the second phase of a crowdsourcing effort to categorize galaxies in our universe. Researchers say computers are good at automatically measuring properties such as size and color of galaxies, but more challenging characteristics, such as shape and structure, can currently only be determined by the human eye.

An international group of researchers, led by the University of Minnesota, has just produced a catalog of this new galaxy data. This catalog is 10 times larger than any previous catalog of its kind.

View examples of images categorized by citizen scientists at http://z.umn.edu/galaxyimages.

"This catalog is the first time we've been able to gather this much information about a population of galaxies," said Kyle Willett, a physics and astronomy postdoctoral researcher in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and the paper's lead author. "People all over the world are beginning to examine the data to gain a more detailed understanding of galaxy types."

Between Feb. 2009 and April 2010, more than 83,000 Galaxy Zoo 2 volunteers from around the world looked at images online gathered from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. They answered questions about the galaxy, including whether it had spirals, the number of spiral arms present, or if it had galactic bars, which are long extended features that represent a concentration of stars. Each image was classified an average of 40-45 times to ensure accuracy. More than 16 million classifications of more than 300,000 galaxies were gathered representing about 57 million computer clicks.

When volunteers were asked why they got involved in the project, the most common answer was because they enjoyed contributing to science. Researchers estimate that the effort of the volunteers on this project represents about 30 years of full-time work by one researcher.

"With today's high-powered telescopes, we are gathering so many new images that astronomers just can't keep up with detailed classifications," said Lucy Fortson, a professor of physics and astronomy in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and one of the co-authors of the research paper. "We could never have produced a data catalog like this without crowdsourcing help from the public."

Fortson said Galaxy Zoo 2 is similar to a census of the galaxies. With this new catalog, researchers now have a snapshot of the different types of galaxies as they are today. The next catalog will tell us about galaxies in the distant past. The catalogs together will let us understand how our universe is changing.

To help create the next catalog, volunteer citizen scientists continue to be needed for the project. To participate, visit www.galaxyzoo.org. No special skills are needed, and volunteers can start classifying galaxies and helping the scientists within minutes of going to the website.

In addition to Fortson and Willett, other authors of the research paper include Chris Lintott, Oxford Astrophysics and Adler Planetarium; Steven Bamford, University of Nottingham; Karen Masters, Robert Nichol and Daniel Thomas, University of Portsmouth and South East Physics Network; Brooke Simmons and Robert Simpson, Oxford Astrophysics; Kevin Casteels, University of Barcelona; Edward Edmondson and Thomas Melvin, University of Portsmouth; Sugata Kaviraj, Oxford Astrophysics and University of Hertfordshire; William Keel, University of Alabama; M. Jordan Raddick, Johns Hopkins University; Kevin Schawinski, ETH Zurich; Ramin Skibba, University of California, San Diego; and Arfon Smith, Adler Planetarium.

The research was funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Kyle W. Willett, Chris J. Lintott, Steven P. Bamford, Karen L. Masters, Brooke D. Simmons, Kevin R. V. Casteels, Edward M. Edmondson, Lucy F. Fortson, Sugata Kaviraj, William C. Keel, Thomas Melvin, Robert C. Nichol, M. Jordan Raddick, Kevin Schawinski, Robert J. Simpson, Ramin A. Skibba, Arfon M. Smith And Daniel Thomas. Galaxy Zoo 2: detailed morphological classifications for 304 122 galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. MNRAS, 2013 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt1458

Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Enormous catalog of more than 300,000 nearby galaxies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130923200311.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2013, September 23). Enormous catalog of more than 300,000 nearby galaxies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130923200311.htm
University of Minnesota. "Enormous catalog of more than 300,000 nearby galaxies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130923200311.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
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