Researchers from the University of Minnesota have created a catalogue that categorizes and provides information on more than 300,000 galaxies. The inventory is ten times bigger than all similar ones previously created.
Galaxy Zoo is a crowd-sourcing effort to categorize galaxies found in the universe. The project is led by researchers from the University of Minnesota. The second phase of the project, titled Galaxy Zoo 2 saw over 83,000 volunteer citizen scientists participating.
While computers can be used to categorize galaxies based on their size and color, categorizing these galaxies based on their shape and structure needs a human touch. Therefore, researchers from the university called on the public to help them create a new catalogue that now contains information on over 300,000 galaxies found in the universe.
The catalogue is 10 times larger than any similar catalogue previously created. Researchers were able to divide these galaxies into over 16 million galaxy classifications.
"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."
The volunteer citizen scientists were asked to look at images online gathered from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey between February 2009 and April 2010. They were then asked to answer questions about the galaxy. Based on these answers, the galaxies were classified and this process was repeated for an average of 40-45 times to ensure accuracy.
Most of the volunteers for the study revealed that they wanted to be a part of the project because they wanted to contribute toward science. According to the authors of the study, the team effort put in by all the volunteers would account for 30 years of work if carried out by a single scientist.
"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."
Click here to view images from the catalogue.