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.

Centaurus A in the radio skyThe 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.

Example image with radio jets and infrared galaxies

Can you see the infrared galaxy between the radio jets?

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!

4 responses to “Welcome to Radio Galaxy Zoo!”

  1. fotoeins says :

    Thanks for the post, Ivy; at least I can look upon these galaxies and images with some fondness!

  2. Jose cisneros says :

    I would like to help with this project …. but there isn’t
    much in the way of instructional feed back to guide me.
    I would be happy to be wrong if offered instruction as to
    how to be right.

    • Kyle Willett says :

      Hi Jose,

      One of the main reasons that this is a scientific process is that there’s not always a clear “right” answer; we are relying on the combined classifications of our volunteers to analyze unknown data. If you have questions, I strongly suggest going to our Talk section (radiotalk.galaxyzoo.org). There, you can ask questions of scientists and other users, and discuss objects that you’ve classified in detail. You can also go there by hitting the “Discuss” button after finishing a galaxy, and hopefully get some feedback right away.

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