Hubble captures image of a beautiful merger of galaxies
Sometimes, in the depths of space, entire galaxies can merge and collide with each other, throwing up dust and debris that will lead to the creation of new stars. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured one such event: galaxy merger CGCG 396-2, which is a rare multi-armed galaxy merger located 520 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the Earth. Orion constellation.
The observation was first made by volunteers who are part of the Galaxy Zoo Project. It is a citizen science project in which thousands of volunteers classify galaxies to help scientists classify the vast amount of data generated by robotic telescopes. The most astronomically intriguing objects in Galaxy Zoo are selected for follow-up observations with Hubble after a public vote. CGCG 396-2 was one of those candidates, and its image was captured by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
For the project, NASA created a web interface and invited citizen scientists to help classify more than 900,000 galaxies with the naked eye. Since its inception in 2007, the Galaxy Zoo project has contributed more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles and the classification of more than 40 million galaxies. Its success also inspired the Zooniverse portal, which hosts many such projects using the same techniques in various fields of astronomy.
In the Galaxy Zoo project, each galaxy is identified by multiple participants because having multiple independent classifications helps scientists assess how reliable the results are. Depending on the needs of science projects, scientists can use the ratings provided by Galaxy Zoo to allocate valuable telescope time.
For example, if astronomers have a project where they need to observe thousands of spiral galaxies and only spiral galaxies, they can take objects classified as spiral galaxies by 100 percent of the observers, before allocating telescope time to observe them.