Shortly after the Galaxy Zoo Forum was launched, Vanny diagnosed a serious condition among many users: Galaxyzooitis. Symptoms include red eyes and tiredness, a lack of interest in the real world, expecting to see mergers, asteroids and satellites in the sky, seeing galaxies whenever the eyes are closed, an inability to stop talking about galaxies (a secondary symptom of this is incomprehensibility and a new reputation for nerdiness in the family), and, finally, an enhanced ability to see (and classify!) galaxies in Earthly phenomena such as clouds, writing and coffee.
This led to a collaboration between myself and NGC3314, Georgia, Archi, Caro, Infinity, Milk_n_cookies, Paddy, Pat, Scaryitalian, Sophie 378 and Thornius, all of the Galaxy Zoo Forum. We have discovered a new class of galaxy, namely the Galacticat.
It is possible to discover many different galaxy features in Galacticats, such as the tightness of the spiral arms, and to recognise interaction due to gravity.
Not all galacticats interact; some may be classified as “smooth”. Indeed, this project began when NGC3314 brought to my attention “The Overlap Technique”. Overlapping galaxies are extremely important tools for studying dust in the foreground galaxy, with the back one acting as a light; we collect overlapping galaxies here, and it earned us our first telescope time at Kitt Peak Observatory. NGC3314’s report on overlapping galacticats states: “The overlap technique can be used to tell how transparent or opaque the foreground system is. From this, I conclude that cats are opaque except around the edges. Ahh, the power of science!”
Peas, or OIII-rich quasars, also commonly occur in galacticats – often, it seems, in pairs. Curiously, while SDSS peas appear to be whole galaxies or quasars, galacticats tend to have a more uneven distribution of matter and temperature, enough to isolate two small areas of OIII gas.
Galacticats, however, come in a great many shapes and classifications. Not all are galaxies; some are artefacts and some are stars, as Georgia demonstrates here.
We are asking your help in keeping an eye open for further types of galacticat. While we are able to present some initial results, no statistical analysis is yet meaningful, and we are asking you to present any relevant data you have classified on the pets thread in the zoo (sadly the Galaxy Zoo classification interface currently lacks an “animal” button). NB this is not to be confused with the Galaxy Animal Zoo, which is the reverse effect of Galaxyzooitis, namely seeing Earthly objects in galaxies.
We look forward to receiving your Galacticats!
Full reports and our first paper can be downloaded below: