Galaxy Zoo 2

Almost 2 years ago, Galaxy Zoo was born. This was an interesting project – a project where you and I, just sitting in front of a computer, can contribute to astronomy.

Modern survey telescopes equipped with digital detectors can generate many gigabytes of data every night. One of the big problems in recent astronomy is that we’re collecting data faster than we can analyse them. Sure, we have computers to analyse the data for us, but somehow, computers still can’t beat the human brain at recognising patterns.

So, some jobs are still best done manually. However, no matter how much you like astronomy, if you were task to classify 10,000 galaxy images into spiral, elliptical etc., I bet you will never want to look at a galaxy again! (except maybe some really pretty one).  How long do you think you can finish that job? and along the way you might also made some mistakes…

So, instead just one person to doing it, why not let the whole world do it together? And this is how the Galaxy Zoo works. This Zoo is a data set made up of a million galaxies imaged with the robotic telescope of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The public – that means you and me – help to identify the shape of a galaxy; weather it is an elliptical, a spiral or a merger or not a galaxy at all. The same galaxy may be classified by tens of people, thus increases the reliability of the classification.

If you are one of the members, then you are contributing to real science. Many projects are now underway using this data; you can read about the first few in the list of papers published and in progress, on the Galaxy Zoo blog.

Since the Galaxy Zoo project was such a success, and they know that the public can actually provide classifications that are as good as those completed by professional astronomers, they want more from us… and that’s where Galaxy Zoo 2 comes in.

In Galaxy Zoo 2, we are tasked to provide more detailed classifications, rather than just spiral or elliptical. When classifying you will be shown an image of a galaxy and be asked a series of questions about it; for example “it is smooth?”, “does it has a bulge at the centre?”, “how many spiral arms are there?” etc. All you need to do is to look for features that mark out different types of galaxy and answer the questions as well as you can. This is a job that humans are much better at than computers, so most of the questions should be fairly easy.

Galaxy Zoo 2

Go through the tutorial, where there are explanations of each question, along with a selection of examples which you can use to learn and practice your classifying skills. After you’ve finish the tutorial and confident about your new skills, you can start to contribute to Galaxy Zoo science. Before that, remember to register first.


Now go and do some real science!


~ by thChieh on June 4, 2009.

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