Feeds

Scientists need you to organize galaxies

1m star clusters form consternation in night sky

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A group of scientists are looking for internet volunteers to take part in what they claim will be the largest galactic census ever compiled.

The act of classifying a galaxy isn't difficult. The trouble is there's a lot of them. Scientifically speaking, the universe is ginormous, and computer programs can't hold a standard candle to the human eye for reliable star system classification.

That's why a group of scientists developed GalaxyZoo. The website seeks would-be astronomers to help sort through a collection of one million photographs of galaxies snapped by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico.

Volunteers are prompted to help classify galaxies as either elliptical or spiral — and when applicable — whether they are spinning clockwise or counterclockwise. The task should help astronomers further understand the structure of the universe.

"It is great that digital archives we have built for science are now being used by the public to look at the universe," Professor Bob Nichols from the University of Portsmouth said. "It will be great to have all the galaxies classified; it's as fundamental as knowing if a human is male or female."

After signing on, users are given a brief tutorial on how to classify galaxies followed by a quiz to test their star system spotting mettle. Once the volunteer has graduated galaxy analysis 101, they can pick through the organization's galactic scrapbook and begin the task of organizing the universe. The galaxies are categorized by several people to help prevent errors and potential astronomy-hating ne're-do-wells.

GalaxyZoo said they were inspired by projects such as Stardust@home, in which NASA invited the public to sort through dust grains obtained by a mission to Comet Wild-2.

"What the Stardust team achieved was incredible," said Chris Lintott, Oxford researcher and GalaxyZoo team member. "but our galaxies are much more interesting to look at than their dust grains."

You can begin sorting through space here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.