Discover new galaxies!

By Phil Plait | July 11, 2007 6:56 pm

Sometimes, astronomy is a zoo.

One of the big problems in recent astronomy is that we’re collecting data faster than we can analyze it. This is no joke; modern survey telescopes equipped with digital detectors can generate many gigabytes of data every night. Sweeping across the sky, they look for asteroids, exploding stars, anything that changes from one night to the next. Computers can analyze the data, and in many cases they’re pretty good at it.

But not at everything. For example, you get an image that, to your eye, has a few hundred faint fuzzy galaxies in it. Your job is to identify the type of galaxy: elliptical, spiral, peculiar, whatever. Better hurry! By tomorrow, you’ll have 20 images just like this one, but of different parts of the sky. You think, I’ll program my computer to do this! One popular piece of software, called Source Extractor, or (seriously) SExtractor for short, can do a decent job. But it isn’t perfect.

Sometimes, you just can’t beat a human brain (no matter how much you may want to beat the human encasing it).

Chris Lintott, a UK astronomer (perhaps better known as the co-host of the beloved program "The Sky at Night") felt the same way (though, one supposes, not about the beatings). He and his team want to categorize thousands, hundreds of thousands of galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey images (if you think your camera is nice… the Sloan survey uses a 142 megapixel array). Why not open it up to the public, they thought, and let people get it a try?

So they created Galaxy Zoo. You sign up, take a brief test to see how well you can identify galaxies (it’s fun!), and if you can get a high enough score, off you go! You are sent a galaxy image (a program looks at all the data and decides if an object is a galaxy or not) and asked if it’s an elliptical, a merger (a product of two galaxies colliding), or a spiral. You click the appropriate button, and the next galaxy is automatically served to you.

The interface is slick and clean, and they really do give you everything you need. They send the same galaxy to multiple users, and see what kind of consensus they get on the morphology (shape) of the galaxy.

And in many cases, the galaxies sent to you have never been seen before. This little beauty was about the tenth one I saw:

I knew right away from the color and the patchy arms that this was a "starburst" galaxy, a galaxy that is undergoing intense amounts of star formation. A link was provided on the Galaxy Zoo page to the Sloan catalog page for it, and there was also a spectrum of it.

Bang! Whopping emission lines from oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, and an overall bluish spectral background. Oh yeah, this baby is popping ‘em out.

And this was my tenth galaxy to examine! What treasures lie in that data, never before seen?

Now’s your chance to find out. Go and explore space. Warning: it’s addictive. The hardest part is stopping.

Tip o’ the Sombrero (hahahahaha!) to Chris Lintott and Dave P.

Comments (136)

  1. Wow, cool! The test to qualify wasn’t hard at all, but man, once you get into it, some of those images can really be tricky.

  2. Dirac

    I found a similar-looking galaxy: #588010879843500085

    Mine wasn’t my tenth picture, though. It was after… we’ll say a few more. And on a COMPLETELY unrelated note: you’re right, this is really addictive.

  3. Lucas

    Awesome project! People need to tap in more on the idle manpower of internet users like this!

    Also, I found this one: http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=588017704011300880

    But I’m not sure what it is, exactly. Looks like an elliptical galaxy, but it’s blue and very bright. Shouldn’t elliptical galaxies have old, yellowish stars?

  4. ngc3314

    Lucas’ oddity may be a superposition. Clicking to enlarge the spectrum, there are a whole bunch of narrow absorption lines at essentially zero redshift, saying “galactic star”, so this may have a foreground star contributing a good bit of the light.

    Must … resist.. urge… to stare at more galaxies. But wait ’til you see what the Hubble folks have ready to release in a month or two (I’m writing some background). Deeply cool.

  5. RBH

    Addictive for sure. I think I just ran onto the Ring Nebula writ large
    here. I’ve already reported one anomalous object, what looks to me like a 3-way merge. How many odd objects can one report before they start shooting my emails to spam? (That’s a half-serious question.)

  6. Gaijin51

    The galaxies in the tutorial are more clear-cut than in the actual data.

    What is this?
    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587739457224704125
    I clicked star/don’t know, but it might be an eliptical. I’m seeing a lot like this (Clicking star/don’t know at least half the time), so I am wondering. Is the cloudiness just due to the atmosphere?

  7. kvenlander

    Damn I love the internet sometimes. This kind of stuff makes up for a lot of spam.

    I signed up too. Oh well, another reason not to get my behind off the chair…

  8. blizno

    It requires that I sign up before I can take the test. That’s not acceptable. If I fail the test I will have put another fingerprint on the web for nothing.
    If I can pass the test, then I will sign up.

  9. Gaijin51

    Another with poor resolution; again not sure whether to classify as eliptical or don’t know.
    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587731511533109412

  10. Kevin

    Blizno, I’m sure you could create an email account specifically for signing up if that concerns you.

  11. Kevin

    Gaijin, my instinct would be to classify both of your examples as elliptical. They both seem to be face on and I can’t easily make out any arms.

  12. Gaijin51

    Thanks Kevin. Is is better when in doubt to click elliptical with stuff that looks similar to those then?

  13. This one is mine. I’m naming it “George.”

    Is anybody else getting instructed to login on every new picture? It tells me I’m not logged in, but then when I go to log in, it knows who I am and I can’t log in. Bug? Feature? Heavy load?

  14. Kevin

    Well, I would hate to suggest defaulting to one selection over another when you aren’t sure, but from what I can gather after reading the tutorial and looking at a dozen or so images, the blob looking objects that lack definition tend to be elliptical. The hardest ones for me to identify are the edge-on and large angle types, where making out arms and things becomes difficult. In all honesty, I think you should go with what you feel is best. After all, everyone is going to get some wrong, and the astronomers know that. So, I think as long as you try your best to use the information on hand to make an informed decision, that’s really all anyone could ask for!

  15. Cory

    I found this really weird looking object:

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587742059990876440

    Apparently, it’s a cosmic ray, judging by its flags. I never even heard of cosmic rays, but what a way to find out! I do notice it has some bright blue dots and seems to have a bit of a swirl in the middle, looking a bit like a ying-yang. Any significance?

  16. Well and bless me if this isn’t one of the prettiest galaxy mergers I’ve seen in forever.

  17. RBH

    Oh, I dunno. I’m taken by the long jet/tail in this one.

  18. Damn. That is pretty sweet.

  19. Lucas, that does have a spectrum similar to a G star: http://chemistry.beloit.edu/Stars/pages/spec.html

    But what I don’t get is that the filter magnitudes make it look like it should be red! I need to investigate more.

    RBH: email Chris Lintott and let him know about that one. Polar ring galaxies are rare, and others have been found this way!

    Jessica, wow! By coincidence, you got NGC 3126. :-) I searched on the coordinates in a database and found it. Try here for more (scrolldown to 3126): http://www.ngcic.org/DSS/dss_n3100.asp

  20. Ah, Lucas, in the warnings section it says “zWarning: NOT_GAL”. :-)

  21. I don’t want to spam (though I would like to know if anybody is getting login messages besides me? Anybody?), but this one (edge-on spiral, lots of dust, good color) struck me as noteworthy.

    I can apparently only see new messages when I post a new comment. I think that means I should go to bed.

  22. Gaijin51

    Jessica: No, could it be your security settings?

  23. So I can’t name it George then?

    *sigh* I was planning to hug it and squeeze it and pet it and stroke it and, etc.

  24. I suppose it could be the security settings: I’ll deal with it in the morning. This whole George business has bummed me out.

  25. I think that’s the same galaxy you had before, but the edge of it.

    Sorry, but it was discovered in the 1600s I think. But you can call it George if you want.

  26. Just a note to thank everyone for their help; yesterday was quite a day. At this rate I think we might need a bigger zoo…

    I wanted to respond to the poster who had a problem with logging in – we need to be able to match classifications to individual users. Feel free to invent name, email address or anything else as all we care about is matching an account to your clicks on our site. We did try to make as much of the site as possible open to those not logged in too.

  27. Oh, and our mail server died. We haven’t lost anything, but Jessica – I’m blaming you.

  28. Gaijin51

    Phil: are elipticals always yellow?
    Sometimes I see a bluish smudge but I can’t make out any spiral.

  29. Mark

    As I classify them, I think I’m having to fight a form of pareidolla in which I initially see a spiral sometimes when there isn’t one. Perhaps I’m picking up on subtle clues to actual spirals and then talking myself out of it, but I don’t think so, given that it especially seems to happen when there is a spikey “fuzziness” around the outside (which I initially think are the ends of arms).

    This is even more true when it comes to wanting to classify two apparently close galaxies as a merger. About 15 galaxies in, I saw one I almost misclassified as a merger, but ended up concluding that there was no evidence of any interaction between the two. Only about 5 galaxies or so later, I did conclude I had found a merger, but I’m not sure. I made this determination based on the intersection of the “fuzz” around the two small galaxies appearing to be somewhat thicker and extending further than what I would expect if they were completely distinct, but I guess it could be some kind of illusion or artifact.

    I wouldn’t be surprized if the percentage of spirals and mergers that get classified will be higher than actual.

  30. Phy

    I’m wondering if the preliminary reports of a preference for handedness in spirals (under “The Science”) might be more representative of participants’ preference for _determining_ handedness.

    Every so often I run across a beautiful barred spiral or something and I get a little emotional!

  31. Melusine

    Wow, I shouldn’t have looked into this so late – it is addictive! I agree with Shane; the tutorial was pretty easy and I must have gotten at least eight right on the test (they don’t tell you how many, just if you passed), but some of the images are tricky. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve looked at, but it helps to go back to the tutorial once in a while. Cool site.

    RBH Says:
    Gack. URL: http://tinyurl.com/36sf24

    That’s cool…I haven’t gotten one like that.

  32. Gaijin51

    Sometimes in quality control processes, they have “borderline samples.” For the ones that are barely more than a smudge, it might be nice to have a few “rules of thumb” and perhaps some more borderline samples to refer to. I don’t have trouble judging the easy-to-distinguish examples, but when it is just a little smudge, I find it hard.

    I realize that this is what the tutorial is for, but maybe one more section containing nothing but the most indistinct blobs would help.

  33. Harold

    Can the BA perhaps create a followup post explaining some spectra from the site?

  34. I mentioned this on the Baut forum yesterday, so I can claim ToSeeked here.

    Have not been able to do any yet

    (This is my forth attempt to post here as everytime I post submit it is as if I never posted at all and it does not even say my post is awaiting moderation)

  35. Luke Schoen

    An interesting addition to this post might be information on why it is important to classify spiral galaxies as being either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Isn’t a “clockwise” galaxy actually “anti-clockwise” when viewed from the other side?

  36. This is a related story, sort of
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6292024.stm

    …and a system test, re me posting any links

  37. So a link to a thread on the BAUT forum will not be allowed to post here, but a link to an external site is?

  38. Lucas

    > Can the BA perhaps create a followup post explaining some spectra from the site?
    I second that request! :D

  39. Jennifer

    Great – another addiction. I had to make a deal with myself here, being a librarian at work: categorize a book, then categorize a galaxy :D

  40. sirjonsnow

    What, no sex tractor jokes? Very cool idea (I mean the zoo concept, not the sex tractor) – I’ll have to check it out tonight.

  41. Stephen McCann

    Like a few others, I’m returned to the login page, for each image of the trial. In fact I’ve only reached about the 6th image of the trial before my session fails. I’ve tried unblocking pop-ups, which seems to help a bit – but I still want to get into the main analysis. Any other suggestions please !

  42. DarkSapiens

    Oh, yes, Phil, I’d like to see an explanation of the espectra, too…

    For example, do we have to qualify small, round objects with similar to blacbody spectrum as stars/don’t know?

  43. Darth Robo

    Now I really have to get my ‘net connection sorted! :(

    This stuff is groovy. Just curious about RBH’s jet-tail one, would that be caused by a black hole or just an arm flying off because of the collision?

  44. Mark S

    It just trips me out how I’m just sitting here clicking past all these stars, making quick qualitative judgments about entire *galaxies*. Ten million stars, *click*. A hundred million stars, *click*.

    I wonder how many aliens, at some point in history, have popped up a picture of the Milky Way in their browser as part of their own survey, and thought, meh, just another spiral galaxy… *click*

  45. Sarah E.

    Absolutely amazing! Now I’m completely absorbed at work, as opposed to being completely bored :-D

  46. DennyMo

    It’s a pleasant change to see a non-political thread get so many comments. ;)

  47. Mister Earl

    For the people being repeatedly logged out: There are TWO causes, off the top of my head. Problem and solutions both, enjoy:

    1.) Disabled cookies. Basically, the site is making you login each time, because it cannot access the login cookie to confirm whom you are. Enable cookies in your browser settings.

    2.) Dual+ connections with seperate IPs. Let’s say you’re at work, and on a T1. It also has a DSL backup, which is on and accepting traffic. You access the site via an IP the site sees as coming from the T1, then suddenly you’re requesting data under your login from the DSL and the other IP. The site sees data “pretending” to be you coming from a different IP address, and basically kicks you out. To resolve, remove yourself from the second data pipe. Contact your IT folks on this one.

  48. RBH, those are the Mice Galaxies! Recognized them right away. Hubble has an awesome image of them.

  49. Mister Earl

    Maybe they’re throwing those in as well as part of a control.

  50. aiabx

    So I can’t name it George then?

    Hi Jessica, my International Galaxy Registry will sell you the right to name it George for a mere $29.99, and it comes with a certificate and everything.
    -Andy

  51. kingnor

    I’d like to purchase a SExtractor.

  52. DarkSapiens, that looks like a star superimposed on a background galaxy, but it’s hard to tell without a spectrum.

    Mister Earl, I wonder– that galaxy is a barred spiral, and the arms generally come off the ends of bars in that situation. In that one, they wrap all the way around.

    But the spectrum is interesting: it has a whopping huge hydrogen emission line at 6800 Angstroms — that’s the redshifted H-alpha line usually at 6563 Angstroms. Given how bright the nucleus is, and the fact that the line looks a bit broad (not really narrow) that may be an active galaxy. I put the coordinates (RA and Dec) into SIMBAD (http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad/sim-fcoo) and it identified it as UGC 10342 — confirmed via the redshift, too. Here’s an image I found: http://www.skyfactory.org/deepskycatalogue/UGC10342.html

  53. DarkSapiens

    Well… Mister Earl’s one (not mine :P) seems like a superimpose of an eliptic galaxy and a weird structure above for me, but I don’t know what the above thing could be. Doesn’t seem to look like there’s a star there…

  54. hale_bopp

    This is cool. Hope I have some time to play with it.

    Just a note about the images. I noticed a couple of people asking questions about colors that they didn’t quite understand. The tri-color images you are looking at use the g-r-i filters. So the green filter is the blue channel, the red filter is the green channel, and the i filter is used for the r channel. The SDSS uses the ugriz filter system and they chose the middle three filters for the tri color images.

    Rob

  55. Stu

    CURSE you Galaxy Zoo! Curse you and all your offspring for being so fiendishly addictive! If there’s ever been a guaranteed way to make time accelerate to 10x its usual rate, this is it; you go on for “just a few minutes”, to see “just a few more galaxies” and when you look up from the screen an hour has gone by! The problem is whatever the galaxy on the screen looks like, a little voice inside your head tells you “The next one will be even better… look even prettier…” so on you click, again and again, and even if a big spiral appears that voice whispers “Ah, but the NEXT one will be GORGEOUS…!!”

    Some are very vague tho… there should be a few new buttons, with options like “Beats me, looks like someone trod on a cockroach” or “Did someone sneeze on my screen while I was in the loo?”… ;-)

    An amazing, amazing thing… Was inspired to write this if anyone wants a read:

    http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/TheVerse/entries/2007/07/12/galaxy-zoo/778

  56. Andy:

    I appreciate the offer, but if I can’t make everybody else call it George as well, then there’s no point.

    As for the login issues:

    I’m not getting kicked all the way back to an opening screen; I just have a little pop-up window appear when a new picture loads that says,

    Login!

    Please login first to participate in Galaxy Zoo. Only classifications made by registered users are recorded to the database.

    Being a law-abiding kind of person, I then click “Login” at the top right and get a new screen with “Hi [jessica]” in the top left corner, and the option to Logout in the top right. So I’m already logged in, but I’m still being exhorted to log in with each new picture.

  57. Stu

    Jessica, are you using AOL? I had the same problem – AOL hates cookies and Javascript, I’ve been told – so I now just use IE to access the site and everything’s fine. Do that you should have no problem. :-)

  58. Jessica, are you using AOL? I had the same problem – AOL hates cookies and Javascript, I’ve been told – so I now just use IE to access the site and everything’s fine. Do that you should have no problem.

    [meekly] Yes.

    Just so everybody’s aware, I do feel ashamed about it and everything.

    I’ll try that and get back to you in a few hours (have to leave right now).

  59. Irishman

    Luke Schoen said:
    > An interesting addition to this post might be information on why it is important to classify spiral galaxies as being either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Isn’t a “clockwise” galaxy actually “anti-clockwise” when viewed from the other side?

    Valid question. My understanding is that the expectation is that there will not be a handedness preference, that the percentages will be approx 50/50. If a handedness preference is discovered, this will give us something new to ponder.

  60. hale_bopp

    I know some people who worked on creating this site. They just sent out an email to a group I belong to at 2:28am this morning. As of this morning, the statistics were…

    278000 galaxies with one or more classifications (79000 with 2 or more)
    15000 registered users
    3000 emails
    6.2 million web hits

    And this is on the first day!

    Rob

  61. Hi guys,

    Thanks for your awesome contributions!

    You’re making Galaxy Zoo a bigger success than we ever dreamed and we’re ironing out all the quirks as you tell us about them.

    Happy galaxy hunting!
    Kevin

  62. Mister Earl

    Hrm… take a look at 588023670238806175. Interestingly, there’s a massive tidal tail on this galaxy. MASSIVE. But there’s nothing there! Dark galaxy, perhaps?

  63. That’s interesting. I think the main galaxy is to the lower right, and we’re seeing this thing in the plane of the collision!

  64. Mister Earl

    I thought that maybe the “Target” of the galaxy we’re seeing might be behind it. Is there any way to tell from the spectral diagram?

  65. Mister Earl

    Waitasecond… if this is a merger in progress, or if it came close enough to heat up clouds of atomic hydrogen, wouldn’t heated hydrogen stand out on the spectrograph? Don’t know of the top of my head.

  66. Hi All

    Take a look at this one , i call it the doorknob , weirdly mettalic object that seemingly has a very distinct geometric shape (like a doorknob), very ungalaxy like!!!

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587729652354187740

    This must be the first time that the SDSS is getting hit by newcomers.
    I had played around the SDSS site previously but did not really appreciate the use.
    This is a fun way to contribute to science.

    Happy Zoo-ing

  67. Wow! 14 out of 15 in the preliminary test! I guess I’m not that bad at it :D

  68. Mister Earl

    NICE! Hot merger pic. GalID: 587722983365083287. Linky: http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587722983365083287

    Objects are small compared to the rest of the shot, but if you highlight the picture, you can see a tidal tail that you could not before.

  69. Hi all,

    We’re hoping to get a forum up and running very soon so you guys can properly share interesting images.

    When you find a particularly interesting galaxy, it’s a good idea to click on the reference number to get the SDSS interface. There’s a link there called “NED search”. which will tell you about more data about this galaxy (if it exists) and if it’s got other names (NGC, UGC, IC, The Mice, etc.)

    Thanks also to Phil for answering questions here!

    Cheers,
    Kevin
    GalaxyZoo Team

  70. Mister Earl

    Lightning strikes twice. This ‘un here’s a beeeut! GalID: 587729408079429773, Link http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587729408079429773.

    Most definitely a collision in progress.

  71. Fantastic!

    I’m puzzled about this fellow:
    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587735695368257647
    The flags bit has interpretation (?) cosmic ray, but there’s a proper spectrum, too, and it just looks odd.

  72. John Schroeder

    Kevin – Is there any way you guys could put up a scale on the top of the image to show how big the galaxy is, I’ve always wondered when looking at galaxy images how they relate to ours in size.

  73. Hi John,

    If you tick the “crosshairs” box, you get the scale in arcsecond/minutes on the image.

    Cheers,
    Kevin
    GalaxyZoo Team

  74. dre

    I got 15 right on the test, which boosted my confidence, but the real data is damn hard sometimes! Am I ruining important research if I get them wrong?

  75. Mister Earl

    He’s on fire! Another amazing collision ;) GalID: 587732054855778418
    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587732054855778418

  76. dre

    A thought (Chris Lintott, since you’ve been reading, maybe you can help?): it would be easier to ID galaxies if I didn’t have to scroll down each time (yes, my monitor is set to lotsofpixels X lotsofpixels, so don’t tell me to change my settings, smartalecks). Maybe if they move the image window and buttons to the top of the screen…

  77. I’m a completely amateur space junkie, and I have been loving this. Sadly, I really know very little about light spectra, and have only a casual grip on how red/blue shifts work. Anyone have a recommendation of some reading that might fill out my knowledge gaps? On some of the blurry spirals, I’m trying to ID the arms based on color, so it would be helpful to know what I’m looking at.

    Meanwhile, this is my favorite so far, a really great capture of what looks like the beginnings of a merger, with one arm just starting to get pulled into the arm of another.
    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=588010359599923225

  78. This is the first one that’s truly perplexed me. It’s so fuzzy, it’s hard to tell what’s happening. it’s flagged as a possible cosmic ray. Is it a merger? its so fuzzy it’s hard to tell if they are interacting. Just two separate galaxies that happen to be on almost the same plane from our point of view?

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587726033854660683

    It looks like it might be possible that the more reddish galaxy is a spiral galaxy in front of the more yellowish, possible ellipical one, and they are far apart.

  79. Melusine

    dre Says:

    I got 15 right on the test, which boosted my confidence, but the real data is damn hard sometimes! Am I ruining important research if I get them wrong?

    That’s great! Last night it didn’t tell me the score. Now I’ve been taking the test over and over trying to figure out what I got wrong. I don’t feel confident or right in making guesses over the fuzzy ones if I can’t get every one in the test right. I did get all the tutorials correct…argh, so I’m confused. It’s a wonderful learning tool. A follow-up post would be great.

  80. Melusine

    Oh, a fuzzy blue galaxy with indistinguishable arms tripped me up on the test – you have to pay close attention to the colors – I kept calling it an edge-on and getting the rotation wrong. Once I stepped back from it I could better see the “give-away” section. Personally, I’d like a longer test with more fuzzy objects. :-)

  81. eqfan592

    Stephanie said “I’m a completely amateur space junkie, and I have been loving this. Sadly, I really know very little about light spectra, and have only a casual grip on how red/blue shifts work. Anyone have a recommendation of some reading that might fill out my knowledge gaps? On some of the blurry spirals, I’m trying to ID the arms based on color, so it would be helpful to know what I’m looking at.”

    I can’t agree more! I’ve been doing some digging myself, but I haven’t had much luck. If any of you folks over at galaxyzoo.org have any ideas as well that would be great :D

  82. Mister Earl

    Here’s another good one. 587738197191295244
    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587738197191295244

    To really appreciate this one, you’ll need to drag through and highlight the graphic itself. It looks like a smaller galaxy was shredded apart. It looks like someone scraped it off of his shoe.

  83. Patrick S.

    I’m barely even a hobbyist at this, more just someone with a fascination, but this one struck me as rather unusual. It’s a bit hard to make out, but upon zooming in I noticed a coloration mixture I hadn’t seen before and “tendrils” around the edge.

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587731511537172664

    Does this look like anything worth getting excited over?

  84. Melusine

    Sometimes you really have to go and blow up the picture because it came out to me as just a red box with nothing. Click on the small image on the reference page and you get a big red star. Zoom out on the righthand side and you get a lovely picture filled with tons of stars. It’s HD 68064 – star.

    It’s neat how you can just click on the SIMBAD search in the righthand column, then click on ‘identifiers’ and get all this information, much of which I don’t quite understand, but am working on it. This site is slick.

  85. Lucas

    The site should have a little tutorial on analyzing spectra as well. That’d be very useful and interesting! What about a “show advanced information” button?

  86. http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=588007005230858375

    Is that a blue star in the foreground? I know it looks like an elliptical in the back, but the blue thing has to be a star of some sort. It reminds me of a LBV with the way the light from it is blue and white…

  87. http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587739304761557053

    Better. MUCH better! Blue object is a star right? What kind is it I wonder…

  88. Michael Preiss

    I’m having an unbelievably fun time with this. I’ve probably been doing this for four hours already and I’d love to keep going but since it’s 12:30 AM EDT, it’s probably time for me to crash.

  89. Michael Preiss

    I think I found the dinner plate galaxy. Look! A little cosmic steak slipped off. http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/chart/chart.asp?ra=229.03196635&dec=19.4328141

  90. Michael Preiss

    Is this – http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/chart/chart.asp?ra=251.94660161&dec=38.4357694 – an anti-clockwise spiral in front of an eliptical or does the spiral actually contain an eliptical? Are we seeing a mixed merging occurring?

  91. Michael Preiss

    I found this in NEDS but I don’t know how to interpret the data. Is it a galaxy or a nebula?

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/chart/chart.asp?ra=159.72840137&dec=12.49909316

  92. Wes

    This is very cool. Can anyone steer me towards a quick tutorial on how to read the spectral graphs?

    And here’s a weird one I found…

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587726032764600379

  93. Michael – I think, judging from the distance (z is the redshift if you’re look at the page with all the data) it’s certainly a galaxy. Looks like a small and/or disrupted spiral to me.

    Whoever asked about the scrolling – you’re not waiting for it to readjust, but we’re rewriting this.

    Thanks for all the hard work…

  94. AHF

    I feel bad, though. When I get a pixel blob that’s almost impossible to decipher, I’m afraid I’m dooming some block of data to forever being mislabeled…

  95. This one’s lovely: 587739295086739554 , reminds me a bit of the Sombrero galaxy…I haven’t got a clue which sort of spiral it is though. Would it be entirely unreasonable to request a button to classify as ‘spiral, unkown direction’ do you think?

  96. Alex

    AHF Says:
    “feel bad, though. When I get a pixel blob that’s almost impossible to decipher, I’m afraid I’m dooming some block of data to forever being mislabeled…”

    I just click the star/don’t know button when this happens, better to make a positive ID than struggling to make out blobs. there should be a spiral galaxy choice, independent of clockwise, anti-clockwise or edge on.

  97. AHF

    Well, I sorta defaulted on that most of the time, but I felt as though the don’t know wasn’t explained as being something specifically for whatever else you can’t identify. The examples they used were usually for the streaks, satellites or stars. But I’ll just stick with your idea until they tell me otherwise, or kick me off the team :)

  98. I was up until 3:30 AM doing it… been doing it since I woke up a 5:00 PM too. Fun stuff.

  99. CCo

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/chart/chart.asp?ra=215.27251057&dec=22.31972554

    What the heck is that? It looks like a spiral galaxy that broke up.

  100. metamorphium

    Any ideas what’s this?

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587726102557163655

    looks like a merger to me, but the blue stuff next to it?

  101. metamorphium

    And this one I call director’s cut! :)

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587742062158872625

    Enough. They must bring up the forums or we’re doomed.

  102. CCo

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/chart/chart.asp?ra=116.72107173&dec=39.02195093

    Another spectacular merger, this time between a spiral and elliptical galaxy.

  103. Dale

    What a cool and addictive site.

    I just got this submitted as an article on Slashdot (my first!), so hopefully there will be a lot of extra geek brain power thrown at this project for a while.

    Thanks, BA, for bringing astronomy within reach of the common people.

  104. Crux Australis

    Melusine, I was told that I got 13 out of 15 right on the qualifying test (not which ones, though).

  105. Melusine

    Crux Australis Says:
    Melusine, I was told that I got 13 out of 15 right on the qualifying test (not which ones, though).

    Yeah, when I took it after Phil posted this, it just said something like you got AT LEAST 8 right, you passed! Then I saw that people later got scores, so I took it again in the morning and it gave me, I think, 12 out of 15. Took it again and again until I got them all right. Blue blobby galaxies are the worst! It helps when you haven’t been on the computer for hours prior and your eyes are fresh. It’s so addictive. I just hope all this public involvement helps them. I especially like trying to figure out the rotations…and well, looking at astrophotos. :-)

  106. Michael Preiss

    And now for something completely different… Looks like this poor galaxy had an altercation a long, long, time ago and lost. Very, very, badly.

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587733398116434200

    What would happen to our solar system if that was our galaxy and we were in the half that was missing? How long would it take for us non-astronomers to know anything was amiss? Dr. BA?

  107. Melusine

    What a pretty blue spiral whipping around like a hurricane (So to speak.) It’s NGC 6001. Looks better when you click on the small picture.

    Michael Preiss, I had few of those tonight – sort of twisted, spread out galaxies with no discernible center. I wish I had an expert sitting next to me – I have too many questions!

    Must. Stop. Now.

  108. Michael Preiss

    Melusine says:

    @ July 16th, 2007 at 12:24 am
    What a pretty blue spiral whipping around like a hurricane (So to speak. It’s NGC 6001. Looks better when you click on the small picture.

    That’s gorgeous! Reminds me of July 4th pinwheel fireworks.

  109. Ralph

    hmz like to know what kinda star this is, its verry bright and PINK?!?!

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp?id=587742590405509321

  110. DJ

    Just found a great flickr site for sharing finds.

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/galaxyzoo

  111. Draken

    Well hi, have been reading here a lot since I first found this site and this is my first post.

    Was doing my weekly read though and found this and I love it! But the last thing I need is something else thats addictive, all those pretty galaxies…Thanks for the link BA!

  112. This is tons of fun. Beats the stuffing out of sudoku and solitare.

  113. Lofty Walrus
  114. delphi_ote

    Their website makes the claim that human brains are “better than a computer can ever be” at pattern recognition. I’d be very careful saying something like that.

  115. Beware the giant space amoeba!!

    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/chart/chart.asp?ra=166.11002905&dec=4.83432659

    A merger… but an odd one. Look at the gap near the bulge.

    Dr Eric

  116. Michael Preiss

    Eric Aitala says:
    @ July 16th, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    “Beware the giant space amoeba!!”

    Looks like a snake with a huge alligator head. It also looks like a pleisiosaur sans fins and teeth. How’s that for pattern recognition?

  117. This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Discover new galaxies!. Thanks for informative article

  118. bcb

    “delphi_oteon 16 Jul 2007 at 9:36 pm
    Their website makes the claim that human brains are “better than a computer can ever be” at pattern recognition. I’d be very careful saying something like that.”

    I think that
    maybe they need more computers as many as human…:)

  119. Matt

    RBH Says:
    (on 11 Jul 2007 at 10:33 pm)
    Gack. URL: http://tinyurl.com/36sf24

    Those galaxies are called “The Mice” or NGC 4676.

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