Oxford University News Release: Bumper Christmas for Galaxy Hunters
Press Release: 20 December 2007
Armchair astronomers using the galaxyzoo.org website have identified over
500 overlapping galaxies in the local Universe when astronomers had
previously only known of 20 such systems.
"This is the best Christmas present our users could hope for!" said Dr
Chris Lintott of Oxford University, a member of the galaxyzoo.org team.
"Overlapping galaxies are useful because they enable us to study the dust
in each system. Dust grains play a crucial role in the evolution of
galaxies and how we see them - the presence of such dust is critical for
Visitors to galaxyzoo.org get to see stunning images of galaxies. By
classifying some of these images visitors are helping astronomers to
understand the structure of the universe. The new digital images were
taken using the robotic Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope in New Mexico.
Each of the 500+ overlapping galaxies was discovered by a member of the
public signed up to the galaxyzoo.org forum where armchair astronomers can
compare notes on the images of galaxies they have seen and classified
using the website. The search for overlapping galaxies was led by Bill
Keel of the University of Alabama who wrote on the forum asking people to
look out for suitable systems.
Astronomers have been awarded five night's use of the WIYN telescope on
Kitt Peak, Arizona, to take a closer look at the overlapping galaxies
identified by the Galaxy Zoo volunteers. The WIYN telescope is one of the
largest in the Northern hemisphere and one of the most advanced in the
world. This work will begin on 25 April 2008.
"We are expecting to get some spectacular images from our Arizona nights
but, with the first set of science papers on Galaxy Zoo coming out very
soon, we still need more volunteers to visit galaxyzoo.org" said Dr Chris
Lintott. "Even if you've visited the site before, please come back and
classify some more galaxies in between mouthfuls of turkey and Christmas
pudding as we need your help to confirm our results, results which could
have a profound impact on our models of the universe."