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Sorting out galaxies July 29, 2007

Posted by dorigo in astronomy, Blogroll, games, internet, science.

Thanks Marcoscan for pointing out the site of Galaxy Zoo, where images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey can be analyzed in order to classify the galaxies into broad categories, for statistical analysis.

The human eye is better than pattern recognition software in classifying faint galaxies. That is, if one is suitably trained to do that. The site walks you through a tutorial session and then a self-evaluation session, where you learn whether you can participate in the project. The admission criteria are quite loose – I think it is hard to fail if you concentrate on the images.

Then the fun starts: you are presented with as many galaxy images as you like, one by one, and you are asked to decide what category each belongs to. The fascinating part for me is that most of the images you are presented with have not been seen by anybody before: you may be the first to look closely at any one galaxy from up close!

So far, I have classified a few hundred galaxies, and I find the game quite relaxing. Furthermore, every once in a while one is presented with pure beauty. It happened to me with the pair shown below, which I dubbed “Evil eyes”. You can find a lot of information on the pair here.

The site is complete with a forum, where users post their most beautiful finds, and discuss about the project. Definitely worth a visit!



1. changcho - July 30, 2007

Hi Tommasso ; I also signed up for this and have spent some time classifying galaxies. As you pointed out, most (all?) of these galaxies have never before been seen (at least by human eyes!). It is a great project.


2. dorigo - July 31, 2007

Hi Changcho,

post the best one you’ve found so far, it is nice to let them emerge! Just think: you do not want to be the only human being that ever stared at a whole beautiful galaxy, for who knows how much more…


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