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300,000 nearby galaxies catalogued by scientists

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have created a catalogue of more than 300,000 galaxies - ten times bigger than all those previously created.
Credit: Ye Aung Thu

If you ever doubt that there isn't life out there, just remember how many nearby galaxies there are.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have created a catalogue of 300,000 nearby galaxies to our Milky Way.

The collection contains information on more galaxies than had previously ever been categorized.

Using a crowd-sourced tool called Galaxy Zoo, researchers are creating a database of galaxies with the help of 83,000 volunteers interested in science.

The data is made up of a million galaxies imaged by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and viewed by amateurs who answered questions about what they were looking at.

The participants responded to questions about the galaxy, like whether it had spirals, and if so, how many.

They were also asked if it had galactic bars, which show a concentration of stars.

Upon Galaxy Zoo's launch in 2007, researchers were receving almost 70,000 classifications an hour.

Now Galaxy Zoo 2 has asked participants again to look for things like the number of spiral arms, the size of the galaxies' bulges and other things in the brightest 200,000 galaxies.

"With today's high-powered telescopes, we are gathering so many new images that astronomers just can't keep up with detailed classifications," said researcher Lucy Fortson, in a statement.

"We could never have produced a data catalog like this without crowdsourcing help from the public."

The research was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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