Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bored? Got a few moments?

Head over to the Galaxy Zoo and do some classifying!

Learn the difference between elliptical and spiral galaxies in a few minutes with an easy tutorial, take a test, and if you qualify you can start classifying galaxies in no time at all.

You will likely be looking at images seen by no other human, and contributing to a massive effort led by English researchers at Oxford University to classify over a million galaxies. There is apparently some evidence from a sample of about 1,600 galaxies that there is a locally preferred direction of rotation, and this effort will try and confirm or refute this with a much better statistical sample using images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which reaches out far beyond the local group.

You will get pretty good at it, and quickly amass several hundred galaxies.

Here are two typical samples:


...obviously a clockwise spiral.

Here's one that's a little more difficult:


...a little less obviously another clockwise spiral.

It can get difficult:



There are some cases, like this one, where the galaxy is so far away that the image is extremely low resolution, and there is really no way to tell.

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