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‘Galaxy Zoo Mergers’ opens today

One I made earlier (left) and the real thing

By Hamish Johnston

Galaxy Zoo first hit screens in July 2007, then came Galaxy Zoo 2 followed by Galaxy Zoo: The Hunt for Supernovae .

Today trilogy becomes tetralogy with the release of Galaxy Zoo Mergers.

Star Wars meets Wall Street on the silver screen?

No, it’s even more exciting than that — a website that invites ‘citizen scientists’ to help astronomers compare telescope images of colliding galaxies with computer simulations.

A Java application shows you a silhouette of the telescope image along with eight computer simulations. If you think there is a resemblance you click on the simulation and save it for future reference. You can look at another eight and so on.

When your eyes get a bit too bleary, you can start playing with individual saved simulations — adjusting various parameters to try to make the simulation look more like the real thing (see picture above).

The final step is to evaluate how successful you feel you were in reproducing the image.

The fruits of your labour can be logged and fed back to the researchers to help them improve their merger simulations.

The founders of Galaxy Zoo wrote a feature article for us last year, you can read all about the project here.

Happy simulating!

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