Monday May 27, 2019

updated - May 27, 2019 Monday EDT

Scientists Create Massive Catalog of More Than 300,000 Nearby Galaxies

Sep 24, 2013 03:58 PM EDT | By Justin Stock
Galaxies, University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering

Over 83,000 volunteer scientists have organized a catalog with over 300,000 galaxies.

"This catalog 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 said in a press release about the project. "People all over the world are beginning to examine the data to gain a more detailed understanding of galaxy types."

The project, which goes by the name of Galaxy Zoo 2, is the second part of a collaboration to categorize the different types of galaxies in the universe. The work is 10 times larger than any other collection about galaxies the press release reported. Those interested can access the file online at

The research team, led by the University of Minnesota, was able to classify the information thanks to computers which can automatically measure properties of the galaxy such as its size and color. The galaxies shape and structure were more difficult to figure out since they can only be determined by the human eye.

"With today's high-powered telescopes, we are gathering so many new images that astronomers just can't keep up with detailed classifications," Lucy Fortson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota's science and engineering school said in a statement. "We could never have produced a data catalog like this without crowdsourcing help from the public."

From Feb. 2009 and April 2010, volunteers from all over the world viewed images online taken from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. They then answered questions about the galaxy such as if it had spirals, the number of spiral arms present, or if it had galactic bars or long extended features that look like a concentration of stars.

During classification, which included over 16 million images, each photo was looked at an average of 40 to 45 times to make sure they were the correct ones.   

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