The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

More Fun From Galaxy Zoo

The Galaxy Zoo people are at it again.  Galaxy Zoo started a couple of years ago as a citizen science project to get people to help classify galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.  The first version asked pretty basic classification questions but produced a lot of interesting results.  They then made Galaxy Zoo 2 which asked some more detailed questions about the galaxies you viewed.

Now we are doing mergers with Galaxy Zoo.  This takes the level of interactivity up a notch.  Basically, you are given a picture of a galaxy merger (two galaxies colliding).  We want to know how they got that way and how they are likely to end up.  You are then shown a series of galaxy merger simulations.  You pick the ones that look closest to what you see.

But it doesn’t end there.  Once you pick the ones that look close, you can tweak the simulations by changing the mass of the galaxy, speeds they are moving, angles they collide at, number of stars, etc. and really try to produce something that looks like what you see.

Here is an example of a galaxy I tried.  The simulation is the image on the left and the galaxy I am trying to match is on the right.  You can see the controls you an click and drag to change your simulation.  Once you get close, you can save your sim.  This allows you to come back to it later if you want.

By building up a large database of simulations, they hope to better understand the processes involved in galaxy interactions and mergers.  So give it a try, but here’s a quick warning: The previous versions of Galaxy Zoo proved to be quite addictive!

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November 24, 2009 - Posted by | Astronomy, citizen science

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