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We live in a universe filled with galaxies with an amazing variety of sizes and shapes. One of the biggest challenges for astronomers working in this field is to understand how all these types relate to each other in the background of an expanding universe. Karen will talk about how our knowledge of the different types of galaxies has evolved since we first understood they were objects outside our own Milky Way galaxy.
Modern astronomical surveys (like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, www.sdss.org) have revolutionised this field of astronomy, by providing vast numbers of galaxies to study. The sheer size of the these databases made traditional visual classification of the types of galaxies impossible and in 2007 inspired the Galaxy Zoo project (www.galaxyzoo.org); starting the largest ever scientific collaboration by asking members of the public to help classify galaxies by type and shape.
Galaxy Zoo has since shown itself, in a series of now more than 50 scientific papers, to be a fantastic database for the study of galaxy evolution, and its success has inspired the creation of The Zooniverse (www.zooniverse.org), a collection of online projects using similar methods for ‘crowd analysis’ of data in academic fields from history to biology and beyond. This lecture will be running as part of the ‘Big Telescopes’ event at the University of York, an exhibition that features the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s ‘Seeing the Universe in All its Lights’ roadshow, open to the public at York for one day only! This roadshow will be accompanied by the ever-popular Cosmodome and Sundome, various hands-on experiments and visits to the University’s one-of-a-kind Astrocampus. This event promises to be a unique, informative and fascinating experience for all the family.
Dr Karen Masters is a professional astronomer, and Project Scientist for Galaxy Zoo, working at the University of Portsmouth. She is also the Direction of Education and Public Outreach for the Sloan Digital Sky Surveys.
Find out more about University of York astrocampus on Twitter.