Could you help build a galaxy?

June 25, 2018, University of Portsmouth
Galaxies are complicated. In this example, tidal interactions with a neighbour have distorted UGC 1810 to resemble a rose. This would be hard for automated programmes to fit. Credit: NASA/HST.

Have you ever wanted to help build a galaxy? Now's your chance.

Galaxy Builder is a new project from the University of Portsmouth, where volunteers reconstruct images of galaxies to help astronomers better understand how they formed and how physics has shaped their growth through their cosmic lifetime.

The project is part of the Zooniverse, the world's largest and most popular citizen science web portal, owned and operated by the Citizen Science Alliance.

It has been created by PhD student Tim Lingard from the University's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, aided and supervised by Dr Coleman Krawczyk and Professor Karen Masters, while working alongside the Zooniverse and supported by a Google Research Award.

Spiral galaxies can be broken down into smaller : a thin galactic disc, a clumpy central bulge, a boxy elongated bar and winding . Each of these blocks can be roughly recreated using known equations.

The problem is that galaxies are complicated, and when trying to use a computer to fit all of these building blocks, things are very likely to go wrong (and the image produced not representing the galaxy at all).

Tim said: "This is why we need citizen scientists. Having a guide to make sure that the galaxy image being built properly matches the galaxy we're recreating will mean we can obtain mathematical profiles for the building blocks of more galaxies than has ever been achieved before, allowing the statistical study of physics like the driving force behind the creation of spiral arms in galaxies."

To help recreate and do some that could change the world, go to:

Read about the first results from Galaxy Builder at: … axy-builder-results/

Explore further: Image: Hubble finds an Einstein ring

Related Stories

Image: Hubble finds an Einstein ring

April 9, 2018

This image is packed full of galaxies! A keen eye can spot exquisite elliptical galaxies and spectacular spirals, seen at various orientations: edge-on with the plane of the galaxy visible, face-on to show off magnificent ...

Hubble sees spiral in Andromeda

February 10, 2017

The Andromeda constellation is one of the 88 modern constellations and should not be confused with our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. The Andromeda constellation is home to the pictured galaxy known as NGC 7640.

Hubble and Galaxy Zoo find bars and baby galaxies don't mix

January 17, 2014

( —Harnessing the power of both the Hubble Space Telescope and the citizen science project Galaxy Zoo, scientists from the University of Portsmouth have found that bar-shaped features in spiral galaxies accelerate ...

Hubbles spies the beautiful galaxy IC 335

December 24, 2014

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the galaxy IC 335 in front of a backdrop of distant galaxies. IC 335 is part of a galaxy group containing three other galaxies, and located in the Fornax Galaxy Cluster ...

A spiral galaxy in Hydra

April 9, 2012

( -- This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 4980, a spiral galaxy in the southern constellation of Hydra. The shape of NGC 4980 appears slightly deformed, something which is often a sign of ...

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.