Scientists have stumbled across some odd-looking galaxies, which resemble each letter of the English alphabet forming A to Z in the night sky.
Thousands of people participating in the Galaxy Zoo project are helping scientists gain new insights about the universe by classifying galaxies seen in hundreds of thousands of telescope images as spiral or elliptical Volunteers.
The international team behind Galaxy Zoo, including astronomers from Oxford University, are inviting people to be involved in more such discoveries.
The site includes more than 250,000 new images of galaxies, most of which have never been seen by humans. By classifying them, volunteers will add to our understanding of the processes that shaped our universe.
“We’d like to thank all those that have taken part in Galaxy Zoo in the past five years. Humans are better than computers at pattern recognition tasks like this, and we couldn’t have got so far without everyone’s help,” said Galaxy Zoo principal investigator Dr Chris Lintott from Oxford University.
“Now we’ve got a new challenge, and we’d like to encourage volunteers old and new to get involved. You don’t have to be an expert-in fact we’ve found not being an expert tends to make you better at this task,” Lintott said in a statement.
More than 250,000 people have taken part in the Galaxy Zoo project since its launch in 2007, sorting through over 1 million images. Their findings have ranged from the scientifically exciting to the weird and wonderful.
Among the spiral and elliptical galaxies that the volunteers have characterised and classified, they have found an entire alphabet of galaxies.
Galaxy Zoo team member Dr Steven Bamford of the University of Nottingham has created a website ‘www.mygalaxies.co.uk’ where anyone can write their name in the stars.
The team is also keen to add more animals to the volunteers’ celestial zoo, having found a convincing penguin-shaped galaxy.
Along with the quirky appeal of such findings, the researchers suggest such unusual formations may also tell us something about what happens when galaxies collide.