Tuesday, 10 November 2009


Have a look at some of these beautiful galaxy images:

Many more images like this can be found at http://stevenbamford.com/gz2/beta/examples.html

I spend a fair amount of time on galaxy zoo, it's a website that asks you to classify galaxies, are they boxy? do they have spiral arms? do they have a bar? etc.
It's great for wasting a few hours and helping science out (they use the data on what sorts of galaxies are in what parts of the sky in what distribution to publish real scientific papers that do get used to stimulate research) but mainly it's so damned pretty. It's taught me a lot about the universe, we always think that galaxies look like those above, because that's the sort of thing that gets shown. I put those images up because pretty sparkly lights. But real galaxies when you look at them almost all look like this guy:

A smudge of beige against a black sky, mostly galaxies like this aren't making new stars or doing anything terribly exiting really, they're lumps of gas in deep space. But even though they dont look like a fantastic sci-fi fireworks display and they dont have sparkly spirals or anything like that, there's something majestic about that, something grand about a ball of gas larger than you can imagine that's so cold and distant you have to squint to make out it's very dense at the centre and thins out towards the edges. I recommend GalaxyZoo to everyone, it's a great project and you do get to look at some truly amazing images.

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