Welcome to Radio Galaxy Zoo!
Today’s post is from Ivy Wong, who is delighted to announce our newest Galaxy Zoo project.
Welcome to the extraordinary world of radio astronomy. Observe the Universe through radio goggles and discover the jets that are spewing from the cores of galaxies!
Supermassive black holes lie deep in the cores of many galaxies. And though we cannot directly see these black holes, we do occasionally see the huge jets originating from the cores of some galaxies. However, most of these jets can only be seen in the radio.
The figure on the left compares the extent of the radio jets from Centaurus A (the nearest radio galaxy to us) to the full moon using the same scale on the sky. Also, the small white dots in this image are not stars but individual background radio sources. The antennas in the foreground are 4 of the 6 antennas that make up the Australia Telescope Compact Array where the radio image was taken.
How do galaxies form these supermassive black holes? And how does having a supermassive black hole affect the evolution of its host galaxy as well as its neighbouring galaxies? Why don’t we see jets in every galaxy with a supermassive black hole? Though much progress has been made in recent years, there are still many open questions such as the above that we can shed light on by amassing a large sample.
To probe the co-evolution of galaxies and their central supermassive black holes, help us map the radio sky by matching the radio jets and filaments to the galaxies (via the infrared images) from whence they came.
This is a matching & recognition problem that humans are still best at, especially in cases where there are radio jets or multiple sources. And it’s an important task, one that will only become more important as the next generation of radio surveys and instruments come online and start producing enormous amounts of data. So if you’re willing to help, please try out the new Radio Galaxy Zoo and help find some growing black holes — and thank you!