As any of you who are on Twitter (or elsewhere on the web) may have noticed, there has been a conference (dotAstronomy) going on in Oxford this week which several of the people involved in Galaxy Zoo and the Zooinverse were attending (and even some of them were part of running it!). If you’re not on Twitter yet see #dotastro and you might as well get started on Twitter by following everyone who was at the conference. That would really be a great starting point if you’re interested in astronomy (which I assume you are if you’re reading this)!
dotAstronomy was an amazing conference, full of amazing people, and I’ve returned to Portsmouth on an awesome high, but a bit overwhelmed over where to start blogging about it. So I decided rather than try to review the whole conference for you, I would instead just review snippets which I thought were interesting, and for the purposes of blogging on this site, had the most to do with Galaxy Zoo.
So I’m going to start with Pencasting. This was a totally new idea for me, and I have to say I immediately loved it and wanted to join in. So I spent a small amount of my time on the “hack day” making a “pencast” describing our most recent Galaxy Zoo science result (the observation that bars are more common in redder spiral galaxies). A pencast is a drawing that you make while describing what you’re doing. The special pen and paper you use record both the drawing an audio which you can then put online for others to watch. Check it out and see what you think.
My Galaxy Zoo pencast:
I’m sorry if the embedding doesn’t work for you, I’ll try to get that fixed tomorrow. Anyway you can see it along with more astronomy related pencasts see the dotAstronomy Pencast Gallery. And stay tuned. I really liked this technology, so you may be seeing more of it.
The podcast today over at 365 Days of Astronomy is “Galaxy Zoo 2 – Do Bars Kill Spirals?” by Chris and me. We had great fun talking about the first result from Galaxy Zoo 2 – that bars are more common in redder (deader?) spirals. Hope you enjoy listening to it.
You can read more about that project in the previous blog posts about it.
As part of National Science and Engineering Week, 11-20th March 2011 in the UK I was involved in the production of a series of 5 short videos called “From the Earth to the Edge of the Universe” which were made as a collaboration between Creative Technologies and the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth. They are going on the BBC Big Screens, apparently right across the UK and continuing up until the 2012 Olympics.
Bear with me, this isn’t just an advert. The reason for the post is that my segment is all about galaxy morphologies. I talk (briefly) about Galaxy Zoo and show the HST image of Hanny’s Voorwerp. I also describe some of the main morphological features of galaxies, and what I like about them. So I thought you might like to watch it (sorry I can’t figure out how to embed it – the below is just a screen shot).
You can watch all 5 videos here.
This morning a press release went out from the Royal Astronomical Society about the Galaxy Zoo 2 paper I have previously blogged about (post about submission, arXiV link, post about acceptance).This paper on the trends of the fraction of disk galaxies which have bars is currently in press at Monthly Notices.
If you recall, our main finding was that redder disk galaxies are significantly more likely to host a bar than bluer disk galaxies, with the red spirals being the extreme of that population (very red disk galaxies, almost all of which seem to host bars).
So we speculate that the bar might somehow be involved with the process which turns the disk galaxies red – and the press release has gone our with the title “Bars Kill Spiral Galaxies”.
Of course it might not be quite that simple – it’s possible that the increased likelihood of having a bar is actually a side effect of the disk being red, or even that both phenomena (the disk turning red, and getting bar) are coming from some third process to do with the environment the galaxies live in. My best guess is that it’s some combination of all those factors working together – but of course we don’t do science on “best guesses” so lots more work is happening using the sample of bar classifications you gave us in Galaxy Zoo 2. We’re studying the fraction as a function of local environment, I’ve already mentioned here the results which came from the Bar Drawing site which are very exciting (more on that soon), and I’m also working on combining your classifications with information on the gas content (the fuel for future star formation) from the ALFALFA survey (which uses Arecibo – a very cool telescope).
I think what’s very interesting is all this could have an impact on the future fate of our own Galaxy which is known to host a bar.
So that’s lots of exciting science coming soon, and thanks again for all those clicks!
Firstly, I’d like to thank all those users who have used the bar drawing website. As of yesterday at 10pm we have recorded responses from 97 unique users and every galaxy had been looked at by at least one user. This is excellent news and we are delighted with the response the site has received.
We know some users have experienced problems accessing the site. We apologise if this has caused frustration. We remind you that our site is best viewed in Firefox[download here] – response with IE is particularly unreliable. Right now the bar drawing site is hosted at the University of Portsmouth, so the server is not as fast as the main Galaxy Zoo server. If site speed continues to be a problem and/or we start attracting significantly more users we will consider moving the site. Also remember that Google Maps set the zoom level. If you zoom in further than they have data you will see only a white image. Just zoom out until you can see the galaxy. Most other problems can be solved by hitting the reset button – if you reload the page you will move to the next galaxy.
Due to popular demand, we have added a counter to the site, showing you how many classifications you have made.
Thanks for all your help and input.
Ben and Karen [on behalf of the bar drawing team]
Once again we need your help with more detailed classifications of a
selection of galaxies.
We’ve made a sample of interesting galaxies from Galaxy Zoo2, most of
which have bar structures, and we would like you to measure the length
and thickness of the bars. Also we’d like you to check the shape of
the galaxy and tell us how the spiral arms and bars are linked.
We are also pioneering the use of the Google Maps interface for Galaxy
Zoo science, which allows us to perform tasks like drawing on
galaxies. Please note, that the bar drawing pages work best with
Head over to our site: http://www.icg.port.ac.uk/~hoyleb/bars/ and
log in, using your Galaxy Zoo user name and password, to start
We’ve describe the our science
rationale: htp://www.icg.port.ac.uk/~hoyleb/bars/tutorial.php#s1 and there is a forum topic related to this page: http://www.galaxyzooforum.org/index.php?topic=276269.0
See you on the bar site!
Ben and Karen [on behalf of the bar drawing team].