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Can we reach 2 million classifications?

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Radio Galaxy Zoo is halfway through its fourth year.  We are going through all the classifications and finalizing our 1st data release.  We could not have gotten this far without all of you. From the bottom of our hearts, we THANK YOU.

We have reached 71% completeness and sit just over 1,959,000 classifications.  Can we reach 2 million?

As we did with our 1 million classification milestone, we invite you to classify our 2 million-th Radio Galaxy Zoo supermassive black hole.  We have been working hard on Radio Galaxy Zoo merchandise (mugs, holographic bookmarks, and stickers). These are up for grabs for those who classify near or on number 2 million.

As always, make a note (click on discuss) if you have found something interesting, confusing, or if you have a question.

Start your hunt for active supermassive black holes at Radio Galaxy Zoo.

 

 

New papers investigate Galactic Rings in Galaxy Zoo

Hello Galaxy Zoo volunteers!

The fact that galaxies can host a multitude of different structures is no news to the volunteers: recent publications have looked at the spiral arms and bars in galaxies. There has now been some more recent work into a different, altogether rarer phenomenon that are called galactic rings. Galactic rings are objects that are commonly observed in the most strongly barred galaxies — it is theorised that these ring structures grow with the bars in galaxies. However, there are multiple theories that can explain these rare but significant features in galaxies, and the theories that claim to explain them remain purely theoretical.

To get an idea of exactly what is going on in ring galaxies requires a sample of galaxies which have galactic rings. Previous studies have relied on a handful of galaxies to study. However, Galaxy Zoo has proven to be the dataset of choice for any astronomer looking for the rarest of morphological phenomena, and Galaxy Zoo has once again provided the dataset for finding galactic rings in galaxies. Galaxy Zoo has always prided itself on not being just from the public but also for the public and for anyone the field of astronomy: all of the Galaxy Zoo data is available online for any astronomer to use. It is exactly the dataset that has allowed for the publication of two papers on galactic rings, by astronomer and long time friend of Galaxy Zoo, Ronald Buta, a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Alabama. The first paper (here) used the public Galaxy Zoo 2 classifications to successfully define a sample of 3,962 ringed galaxies in Galaxy Zoo, and some examples are given in Fig.1.

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Figure 1: Examples of various ring morphologies identified with the help of Galaxy Zoo 2.

A direct follow-up paper investigating fifty of these ringed galaxies in more detail was then published, again by Ronald Buta. In the second paper of this Galactic Rings revisited series, the main aim was to check how the rings in galaxies are related to the dynamics of the disc: theory suggests that rings are the result of resonances between the motions of the various rotating materials in galaxy discs. A resonance is an amplification caused when two oscillations match at just the right frequency: think of pushing someone on a swing. If you give a push at the top of the swing, then the amplitude (how high up the swing goes) will increase. The work described in this paper shows that galactic rings are likely to be exactly that: resonances between the bar+spiral pattern and rotating stars, and that various ring morphologies can be caused by different resonances in the outer discs of galaxies.

This work really showcases one of the key strengths of Galaxy Zoo: finding rare classes of objects in samples impossible to be classified by professional astronomers. So once again we’d like to say thank you, on behalf of astronomers around the world in the Galaxy Zoo team and those who have gone on to use the data from your hard work in other ways.

#GZoo10 Day 3

We’re ready for the final day of the Galaxy Zoo 10 workshop at St Catherine’s College in Oxford; it’s been great to have so many people following along on the Livestream – yesterday’s talks are still up, and today’s schedule is:

09:30 Alice Sheppard (Forum Moderator 2007-2012)
10:00 Brooke Simmons (UCSD)
10:20 Nic Bonne (Portsmouth)
10:40 Coffee
11:00 Coleman Krawczyk (Portsmouth)
11:20 Mike Walmsley (Edinburgh)
11:40 Carie Cardamone (Wheelock)
12:00 Karen Masters: Summary (Portsmouth)

We’ll be blogging these talks as they happen here but you can also keep an eye on the twitter hashtag for updates too!


Our first speaker this morning is Alice Sheppard who was here from the beginning as a forum moderator on the original Galaxy Zoo site. She’s talking about the past 10 years and how she got involved with Galaxy Zoo site. She was very keen to get involved in the project and help classify galaxy images. After finding images that weren’t easily classifiable, users started to email members of the science team to ask them what to do. After this happened many times, the team realised that a place where users could talk together and interact with the team about classifications would be really useful. So the Galaxy Zoo forum was born! Alice was one of the first people to sign up and was asked to moderate the forum – she (along with other moderators) even started welcoming each new user who signed up with a friendly “Welcome to the Zoo!”

Alice is now talking us through some of the findings made by the users. These discoveries including the Green Peas, which when first spotted by the users they immediately started investigating what they were using the links to the science survey site. In the original Galaxy Zoo there was also no button for an irregular galaxy, so users started collating their own collection of irregular galaxies! But what makes users keep coming back to the Galaxy Zoo forum time and time again? One success story was the Object of the Day – the moderators even crowd sourced the users to find good images!

Alice has discussed some suggestions for future engagement with users online – always give people room to chat; whether it’s about astronomy or not at all! Remember: as good as you think you citizen science system, tools, tutorials etc are – the volunteers will teach you how to do it better!

Next up this morning is Brooke Simmons talking about what she’s calling probative outliers. The things that tend to break the mould and challenge our world (or Universe!) view. She starts with the bulgeless galaxies – those that look like pure disks – but are hosting growing super massive black holes in their centers. This is weird because the most accepted theory is that super massive black holes grow in mergers of galaxies BUT mergers also grow bulges – so how did these bulgeless things grow their black holes? Brooke is showing us some beautiful follow up observations of Galaxy Zoo SDSS images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope that will help to try and figure this out.

Thing is, Brooke only has about 100 of these galaxies – but not for lack of trying! They just seem to be really rare. If we could actually cover the southern sky in the same way that SDSS covered the northern sky, Brooke would be very grateful! Could we also use trained machines to pick out the weird outliers as well? In which case, Brooke thinks we need to adapt the next iteration of Galaxy Zoo to be both machine as well as user friendly. This will mean leaving things behind but let’s not be afraid to make changes!

Next up, we have Nic Bonne from Portsmouth who’s going to tell us all about making luminosity functions using the data from Galaxy Zoo. So what’s a luminosity function? It’s basically a count of the number of galaxies at different luminosities (or brightness) which can give us clues about how the Universe formed and evolved.

Luminosity functions are especially interesting if you start making them for different morphologies or colours of galaxies. This is what Nic has been doing using the Galaxy Zoo 2 classifications. He’s found something a bit weird though – that the galaxies classified as smooth seem to be more numerous than those classified as featured at the low luminosity (low mass) end. Bringing the colour of the galaxies into this picture as well shows you how similar red featured and red smooth luminosity functions are. Nic says there’s a lot more to do be done with this work though, including using Ross’s new debiased classifications to improve the sample completeness and investigating how the luminosity functions change shape for different kinematic morphologies.

Next up is Coleman Krawczyk who’ll be showing us some of the initial results from the Galaxy Zoo 3D project. This project asked users to draw around the features of a galaxy on an image so that researchers could pick out the spectrum of that particular feature using MaNGA data. Users were asked to either mark the centre of the galaxy or draw around any bars or spiral arm features.

Users could also choose which classification task they would prefer to help out with. This meant that the easy classification task of marking the centre of the galaxy was finished within a couple of days – whereas the spiral drawing task took 6 weeks for classifications to finish. Coleman has now reduced these classifications and has made “maps” for every galaxy marking which pixels are in which features. He’s now started making diagnostic plots to map the star formation rate in the different features of classified galaxies. Turns out we’re going to need more classifications in order to do the science we want to, so this project could have new data coming soon!

Next up is Mike Walmsley, who’ll be joining the research team as a PhD student in October.

He’s not yet done any work with Galaxy Zoo but as part of his Masters research he looked at doing automatic classification of tidal features in galaxies. His goal was to write a code that trained a machine, using a neural network, to detect these tidal features. He also figured out that masking the main galaxy light in the image makes it easier for the machine to spot tidal features. So does this method actually work? It identifies tidal features with ~80% accuracy – which is actually a much higher quality than other automated methods! He’s hoping to apply these methods to new and bigger surveys during his PhD.

Next up is Carie Cardamone from Wheelock College talking about her work building on the the discovery of the Green Peas by Galaxy Zoo volunteers.

So what are the Green Peas? First up their name describes them pretty well because they’re small, round and green. Carie originally wanted to study them because she thought they might be growing super massive black holes, but it turned out instead they have extremely high star formation rate for their relatively small mass. There has been many further studies on these objects so we now know a lot more about them, but one thing we still don’t really know is what galaxy environment they live in. Carie is trying to quantify this but the first problem was that she didn’t have enough Peas! There’s only 80 in the original GZ2 sample but now with the better analysis tools Carie has been able to select 479 candidate Peas. Analysing this sample and comparing it to a sample of well studied luminous red galaxies, the results suggest that peas are less clustered. i.e. the Peas have fewer galaxy neighbours.

We’re now coming towards the end of the meeting (sad times guys) and to remind us all why we’re here and what we talked about, Karen Masters is going to give us a summary of the past couple of days. She’s first pointing out how great we are as a team and the impact the research has had on the galaxy evolution community. Fitting for the 10 year anniversary is that we have 10 published papers with over 100 citations!

Karen has noticed a couple of themes from the past few days that she’s summarised for us. The first is that we have to keep engaging with the Galaxy Zoo community on Talk. The second is that we shouldn’t be afraid of change – let’s not get hung up on how it’s always been done and think about how best to do it now. The third is that galaxy’s are messy and we need to think carefully how we use the classifications. The fourth is that the users will always give you what you ask for – so be careful what you ask! But sometimes you get more than you asked for and end up with a wonderfully collaborative research team!

Galaxy Zoo’s 10th Anniversary


 

Galaxy Zoo is celebrating ten years since launch next month, and as part of the festivities the science team are having a meeting in Oxford from 10th-12th July. Unfortunately we didn’t think it was feasible to invite the hundreds of thousands of you from all over the world who have contributed to the project over the last ten years, but the good news is that all of the talks from the meeting will be interactively live-streamed so that anyone can join in the discussion! See the schedule above for details on who is speaking at the meeting. Details of how to join the live stream will be released closer to the event.

There will also be an Oxford SciBar public event on the Monday night. All who are able to make it are welcome to join but don’t worry if you can’t, there will be a full podcast of the evening released shortly after the event!

Introducing the 100th Zooniverse Project: Galaxy Nurseries

It is my pleasure to announce the launch of a brand new Zooniverse project: Galaxy Nurseries. By taking part in this project, volunteers will help us measure the distances of thousands of galaxies, using their spectra. Before I tell you more about the new project and the fascinating science that you will be helping with, I have an announcement to make. Galaxy Nurseries is actually the 100th Zooniverse project, and we’re launching it in the year that Galaxy Zoo (the project that started the Zooniverse phenomenon) celebrates its 10 year anniversary. We can’t think of a better birthday present than a brand new galaxy project!

To celebrate these watersheds in the histories of the Zooniverse and Galaxy Zoo, we’re issuing a special challenge. Can you complete Galaxy Nurseries – the 100th Zooniverse project – in just 100 hours? We think you can do it. Prove us right!

Back to the science! What is Galaxy Nurseries? The main goal of this new project is to discover thousands of new baby galaxies in the distant Universe, using the light they emitted when the Universe was only half of its current age. Accurately measuring the distances to these galaxies is crucial, but this is not an easy task! To measure distances, images are not sufficient, and we need to analyze galaxy spectra. A spectrum is produced by decomposing the light that enters a telescope camera into its many different colors (or wavelengths). This is similar to the way that water droplets split white light into the beautiful colors of a rainbow after a storm.

The data that we use in this project come from the WISP survey. The “WISP” part stands for WFC3 IR Spectroscopic Parallel. This project uses the Wide Field Camera 3 carried by the Hubble Space Telescope to capture both images and spectra of hundreds of regions in the sky. These data allow us to find new galaxies (from the images) and simultaneously measure their distances (using the spectra).

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This animation shows how a galaxy’s white light going through a prism gets decomposed into all its colors. Like the rainbow! The figure shows how the different colors end up in different positions. In this example violet/blue toward the bottom, orange/red toward the top. At each color, we have an image of the galaxy. When we sum the intensity at any given color, we obtained the spectrum to the right.

How do we do that? We need to identify features called “emission lines” in galaxy spectra. Emission lines appear as peaks in the spectrum and are produced when the presence of certain atomic elements in a galaxy (for example oxygen, or hydrogen), cause it to emit light much more strongly at a specific wavelength. The laws of physics tell us the exact wavelengths at which specific elements produce emission lines. We can use that information to tell how fast the galaxy is moving away from us by comparing the color of the emission line we actually measure with the color we know it had when it was produced. In the same way that the Doppler effect changes the apparent pitch of an ambulance’s siren as it approaches or recedes, the apparent color of an emission line depends on the speed of the galaxy that produced it. Then, we can relate the speed of the receding galaxy to how far it is from us through Edwin Hubble’s famous law.

The real trick is finding the emission line features in the galaxy spectra. Like many modern scientific experiments, we have written computer code that tries to identify these lines for us, but because our automatic line finder is only a machine, the code produces many bogus detections. It turns out that the visual processing power and critical thinking that human beings bring to bear is ideally suited for filtering out these bogus detections. By helping us to spot and eliminate the false positives, you will help us find galaxies that are  some of the youngest and smallest that have ever been discovered. In addition, we can use your classifications to create a next-generation galaxy and line detection algorithm that is much less susceptible to being fooled and generating spurious detections. All your work will also be very valuable for the new NASA WFIRST telescope and for the ESA/NASA Euclid mission, which both will be launched in the coming decade.

Emission lines in a galaxy’s spectrum can tell us about much more than “just” its distance. For example, the presence of hydrogen and oxygen lines tells us that the galaxy contains very young, newborn stars. Only these stars are hot enough to warm the surrounding gas to sufficiently high temperatures that some of these lines appear. By examining emission lines we can also learn what kind of elements were already present and in what relative proportions. We too are “star-stuff”, and by looking at these young galaxies we are following the earliest formation of the elements that make all of us.

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The horizontal rainbows show the spectra for the three objects on the left. The bottom, very compact object is a star in our own Milky Way. The other two objects are an interacting pair of young galaxies, observed as they were 7 billion years ago! We can say this because we see an emission line from hydrogen in both galaxies (indicated with arrows). This emission line allows us to measure the galaxies’ distances. 

How do spiral arms affect star-formation?

Hi everyone! For those unaware, I am a PhD student at the University of Nottingham looking at spiral galaxies in Galaxy Zoo (for an overview, see this blog post). Following the release of my first refereed publication last year, my second refereed publication has now been accepted (woohoo!). As can be seen from my previous post (found here), we found remarkable differences between the spiral galaxies that we observe in the local Universe, simply by comparing galaxies with different numbers of spiral arms. Galaxies with two spiral arms are distinctly redder in colour than many-armed galaxies. However, the exact reasons for these differences was still up for debate. Red galaxies could have very low star-formation rates, or contain a significant amount of dust, blocking the escaping blue light.

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The IRX-beta relation for galaxies with different numbers of spiral arms. A higher IRX value means more light is absorbed by dust: two-armed galaxies are more heavily dust-obscured.

With this in mind, we decided to follow-up that paper with panchromatic data from UV and infra-red wavelengths. UV wavelengths bluer than optical probe the very youngest stars, and infra-red wavelengths redder than optical measure dust emission directly. Combining these measurements allowed us to show the following things:

  1. Star-formation rate does not depend on spiral arm number: all spiral galaxies seem to be forming the same number of stars, regardless of what their spiral arms look like.
  2. The amount of blue light being absorbed by dust is significantly greater in two-armed spiral galaxies.

These two striking results have now shown us that spiral arms are not simply a visual pattern. They act to change the conditions of star-formation in local galaxies, making them much more sensitive to dust. Interested readers can find the full paper here.

Introducing Galaxy Zoo “3D”, aka “Why are SDSS galaxies back?”

I’m delighted to announce the launch of “Galaxy Zoo: 3D” today – this is a small project from a subset of the Galaxy Zoo team where we ask you to help us identify in detail the locations of internal structures seen in a sample of about 30,000 galaxies.

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What’s special about these galaxies is that they have been selected to potentially be observed (or in some cases have already been observed) by the “MaNGA” project.

MaNGA (which stands for “Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory” – sorry about that!), is a spectroscopic mapping survey that I have been working with for the last several years. This one of the current surveys which form part of the 4th generation of Sloan Digital Sky Surveys.

SDSS retired its camera in 2012 (its in the basement of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C!), and is now focusing on measuring spectra of things in space. Instead of taking images of galaxies in just a couple of filters, MaNGA takes spectral images – each of up to hundreds of points in the galaxy has a full spectrum measured, which means we can decode the types of stars and gas found in that part of the galaxy. We can also recover the motions of the stars and gas in the galaxy making use of the Doppler shift (the redshift or blue shift we see in light which comes from moving sources).

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An illustration of the type of data MaNGA is taking. You get an image of the galaxy at each wavelength slice (e.g. the green one shown), or a spectrum at any point. You can also combine all the light into a single image. The resolution (sharpness) is poorer than using a camera, but you get a lot more information. Illustration credit: CubeVisualisation

MaNGA will ultimately do this for about 10,000 of the total list (this is how many we can manage in 6 years of operations), and since 2015 has already measured these data for a bit more than 3000 galaxies. To help us interpret this vast quantity of data we’re asking you to draw on the galaxies to mark the locations of spiral arms and bars. We also want to double check the galaxy centres are recorded correctly, and that we have found all the foreground stars which might be getting in the way of the galaxy.

Now one thing you know all about as Galaxy Zoo volunteers is the benefit of human eyes on large samples of galaxies. When we first launched Galaxy Zoo we made use of the “Main Galaxy Sample” from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey as the input list of galaxies. This is a sample of 1 million galaxies automatically identified from the SDSS images, and which had their distances (redshifts) measured in SDSS-I/II. However (perhaps ironically) the algorithm which selected this sample wasn’t very good at finding the biggest most nearby galaxies. Specifically it tended to “shred” them into what it thought were multiple galaxies. My favourite demonstration of this is the Pinwheel galaxy (M101), which the first SDSS galaxy detection algorithm interpreted as a cluster of galaxies.

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M101 as seen by the original SDSS galaxy finding algorithm – each red box was thought to be a separate galaxy. Image from Brichman et al. 2013.

(Don’t worry – ever resourceful, astronomers have made plenty of use of these galaxies which have multiple spectra measured – it turns out to be really useful).

By the time MaNGA came along this problem was well known, and instead of making use of the standard SDSS galaxy catalogues, MaNGA targeted nearby galaxies by making use of the “NASA Sloan Atlas“- a NASA funded project to make a more  careful list of nearby bright galaxies in the SDSS images.

So what we discovered when putting together the sample for Galaxy Zoo: 3D is that not all MaNGA galaxies have Galaxy Zoo classifications. In fact about 10% are missing, and we also found some more galaxies we missed first time round. It turns out that by relying on automatic galaxy finding there were a quite a few galaxies which had been missed before.

So these are back in the main site right now.

In Galaxy Zoo: 3D we will only ask you to draw spiral arms on galaxies you have previously said have spiral arms, so we’ll be making use of the new classifications to sort out the last 10% of MaNGA galaxies. We’ll also create a complete Galaxy Zoo classification list for the MaNGA sample, which will be really useful for people working with that sample.

To tempt you to give it a go, here are some interesting and beautiful MaNGA galaxies being discussed in Talk by our beta testers (the purple hexagon indicates the part of the galaxy where MaNGA can measure spectra). More than half of all the galaxies in MaNGA them are nearby galaxies with lots of structure. I think you’re really going to enjoy exploring them, and at the same time really help us learn a lot about galaxies.

 

 

FERENGI complete + new Illustris images!

Hi everyone, it’s Mel and Hugh from Minnesota, and we (especially Mel) would like to give a big THANK YOU for all of your help classifying these last couple of months! When we originally launched the second Ferengi set , it was estimated that it would take four months for the data to be complete, based on the current classification rates. Thanks to your help, that time was cut in half, and Mel’s thesis is officially saved! (Stay tuned this Spring for updates on how Mel is using these classifications to study morphological transformations of Hubble galaxies from 6 billion years ago to today.)

Now that those are complete, we have another announcement…

Illustris is back!

This week Galaxy Zoo volunteers may notice the appearance of simulated galaxy images produced by the Illustris project.

Illustris is one of several large-scale cosmological simulations that play a key role in helping us to understand how galaxies formed and how the Universe and its contents have evolved throughout cosmic history.

To learn more about Illustris, check out this previous blog post  or the main Illustris project website.

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An Illustris galaxy – on the left is the original image from the simulation, on the right is the galaxy “Sloanified” with realistic colors and dropping it onto a real SDSS background.

 

New images for Galaxy Zoo from GAMA-KiDS!

Hello Zooniverse citizen scientists! We’re extremely excited to announce the release of a new dataset on Galaxy Zoo. For the past several months we’ve been working with scientific collaborators from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly Survey and the VST Kilo-Degree Survey. This blog post will give you a few details about these surveys, the new data set, and what we hope to achieve with Galaxy Zoo classifications.

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The Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) Survey is an international project to exploit the latest generation of ground and space-based survey facilities. Its aim is to study cosmology and galaxy formation and evolution from scales of thousands up to millions of light years across. The science goals include furthering our understanding of how the mass of stars within galaxies builds up over time, how and when do galaxies form their stars, how are those previous questions related to a galaxy’s environment, and at what epoch did star-formation and mass-build-up dominate? Visual morphologies from Galaxy Zoo will allow us to explore if, how, when, and where galaxies transition from one type into another, what impact this has on the formation of stars, and to look for new types of unique and interesting galaxies.

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The observations are from the Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS) on the 2.6m VLT Survey Telescope (VST) located at the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. KiDS is a large optical imaging survey in the Southern sky designed to tackle some of the most fundamental questions of cosmology and galaxy formation of today. At the heart of KiDS lies the 300 million pixel camera OmegaCAM. Its instantaneous field of view is a full square degree and it was designed to provide extremely accurate measurements of the intrinsic shapes of faint, small galaxies.

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The 2.6m VLT Survey Telescope (VST), located at the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile, is carrying out observations for the Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS).

The scientific teams behind GAMA and KiDS have been working closely to put together this new set of images. Galaxies have been selected from a catalogue produced by the GAMA Survey and images have been constructed based on observations from KiDS. While some of these galaxies have already been looked at by Galaxy Zoo citizen scientists before using their Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) images, the improvement in the resolution and depth of KiDS images over SDSS imaging is remarkable. With this new GAMA-KiDS data set we hope to be able to study the very faintest structures within galaxies, as well as more accurately classify features which may have been missed before. Take a look at the image below to see how much clearer the new images are!

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This image compares SDSS images (on the left) with those from GAMA-KiDS (right) for three example galaxies: G107214, G298570 and G551505.  Our new images reveal a lot more detail!

We’re really excited about getting classifications for these new images, and we hope you are too! We’re more than happy to talk about any interesting galaxies you may come across and to answer any questions you may have. Until then, enjoy, and thank you for your help!

– by Dr Lee Kelvin, on behalf of the GAMA and KiDS teams

RGZ Team Spotlight: James Ansell

Hi everyone! I’m James and I’ve joined the RGZ team as a Communication/Engagement intern. I’m a PhD Candidate at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) which is part of the Australian National University (ANU). I’m also a Sessional Academic (read: Tutor and marker) for a couple undergraduate courses covering things from ‘the Public Awareness of Science’ to ‘Science, Risk and Ethics’. And to pay the bills I work for the ANU in an administration role at (essentially) the Business School as well as a few other odd jobs.

But I am at heart an errant astronomer – having double majored in Astronomy/Astrophysics and Science Communications at the ANU for my B.Sci, graduating with Honours in 2015. I grew up in Alice Springs in the middle of Australia and had a purely spectacular night sky to look at. Something I only appreciated when I lived Brazil after graduating high school.

As part of my undergraduate studies I did dabbled a bit in some astronomy research. Firstly I did a project with Dr Charley Lineweaver (if you don’t know Charley, you should!) looking at the (surprisingly fuzzy) distinctions we make between objects in space e.g. planet, dwarf-planet, asteroid, moon. Let’s just say the project didn’t go where I thought it would.

Secondly, as part of an Astronomy Winter School I did research looking for ‘intergalactic stellar bridges’. Essentially chains of stars going from one galaxy to another which may have played a role in stellar formation in galaxies. I think. It was several years ago and the weather was against us when we went to do observations, so it didn’t go anywhere and my memory is pretty fuzzy on the details.

Outside of academia, I was involved in the ANU Black Hole Society (the Astronomy Club), the ANU Physics Society and the Science Communication Society. Also I absolutely love the TV series Cosmos, both the Carl Sagan original which I saw as a teenager and then the Neil deGrasse Tyson remake from a few years ago.

Since my astronomy research didn’t turn out particularly well, I ended up going down the science communication route. I’ve since done research looking into the effects of fictional doctors on young people’s perceptions of healthcare, factors affecting the uptake of vaccinations in Australia and the relationship between people’s perceptions of ‘Superfoods’ and their health behaviours. But I do miss the Astronomy and Astrophysics side of things so I’m super excited to be able to combine my two interests as part of the Radio Galaxy Zoo team.

(Also for some random fun facts about me – I used to host a music program on a Canberra community radio station, I founded the Canberra pop-culture festival ‘GAMMA.CON’ which is basically our local Comic-Con and I fly Hot Air Balloons with the ACT branch of the Scout Association.)

I’ll be hanging around in the forums under the name ‘JRAnsell’ and am keen to hear from you – if you’ve got questions about RGZ specifically or astronomy more broadly let me know! You can also hit me up on Twitter @radiogalaxyzoo or at radiogalaxyzoo@gmail.com.