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83,000 citizen scientists help catalogue more than 300,000 galaxies

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 13:28

Washington: More than 83,000 volunteer citizen scientists have helped catalogue information on more than 300,000 galaxies to help learn more about our universe.

The project, named Galaxy Zoo 2, is the second phase of a crowdsourcing effort to categorize galaxies in our universe.

Researchers say computers are good at automatically measuring properties such as size and colour of galaxies, but more challenging characteristics, such as shape and structure, can currently only be determined by the human eye.

An international group of researchers, led by the University of Minnesota, has just produced a catalogue of this new galaxy data.

This catalogue is 10 times larger than any previous catalogue of its kind, and is available online at

"This catalogue is the first time we`ve been able to gather this much information about a population of galaxies," 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, said.

"People all over the world are beginning to examine the data to gain a more detailed understanding of galaxy types," the researcher said.

Between Feb. 2009 and April 2010, more than 83,000 Galaxy Zoo 2 volunteers from around the world looked at images online gathered from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

They answered questions about the galaxy, including whether it had spirals, the number of spiral arms present, or if it had galactic bars, which are long extended features that represent a concentration of stars.

Each image was classified an average of 40-45 times to ensure accuracy. More than 16 million classifications of more than 300,000 galaxies were gathered representing about 57 million computer clicks.

The data is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


First Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 13:28
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