More from Chris's talk – red spirals

Chris told me in the pub yesterday that “it’s nice to give a Galaxy Zoo talk where people are already familiar with the story; it means that people already know the story.” That’s a testament to the success of your classifications — from what I’ve seen at this meeting, it seems that in just a year and a half, Galaxy Zoo has gone through evolved from a cool new strategy for doing science to a source of exciting research results. The results Chris presented about red spirals were particularly interesting. Karen Masters has blogged about these red spirals before. Spiral galaxies usually contain lots of young, blue stars, but these “red spirals” contain old, red stars. What this means is that the formation of new stars in these galaxies has been shut off. Galaxy Zoo’s contribution — your contribution — has been to show that red spirals most often live at the edge of galaxy clusters. They are clusters that have just begun to move toward the centers of clusters due to the clusters’ gravitational attraction. The attraction of the galaxy clusters has led to new star formation being shut off, but not to the shape of the galaxy changing — a process that Chris called “gentle strangulation.” The gravitational attraction is just right — enough to shut off star formation, but not enough to deform the galaxy.

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3 responses to “More from Chris's talk – red spirals”

  1. fluffyporcupine says :

    Hi Guys, hope you’re all enjoying the conference. was just wondering how “gentle strangulation” works to shut off star formation?

  2. Alice says :

    Welcome to the zoo, “uncategorised” – glad you and Chris are having a good time in the pub (sorry, couldn’t resist :D) . . .

  3. marinakb says :

    Wow! It’s just fantastic to be connected up with a scientific conference AND contributing in some way from home – it’s just fabulous! Thank you for keeping us informed and being so appreciative about all the classifying, we do enjoy doing it! Sorry the Sierra Nevada was such a freeze out – Chris’ blog entries were very patient about it… I guess astronomers are trained to accept whatever the weather throws at them.

    Thanks Guys, have fun, and do carry on keeping us informed!
    Marina

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