12 July 2024
Ring galaxies AI discovery: Citizen scientists and AI team up

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RING GALAXIES AI DISCOVERY: Unveiling the Secrets of the Universe

The Synergy Between Citizen Astronomers and AI

In a groundbreaking collaboration between citizen astronomers and artificial intelligence (AI), researchers have made a remarkable discovery in the realm of astronomy. Utilizing data from the powerful Subaru Telescope, astronomers have identified approximately 400,000 spiral galaxies and an astonishing 30,000 ring galaxies. This significant finding marks a pivotal moment in astronomical research, shedding light on the diverse morphologies of galaxies and their intricate histories.

Galaxies, the building blocks of the universe, exhibit a wide array of shapes and structures that provide valuable insights into their formation and evolution. The sheer volume of data captured by cutting-edge telescopes like the Subaru Telescope presents a monumental challenge for astronomers, who are unable to manually classify every galaxy within the dataset. To address this issue, the GALAXY CRUISE citizen science project was initiated, engaging over 10,000 volunteer astronomers to contribute to the classification process.

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The Role of AI in Galaxy Classification

While citizen astronomers play a crucial role in galaxy classification, the process can be time-consuming even with a large number of volunteers. Artificial intelligence offers a solution by rapidly analyzing vast amounts of data, provided it is trained on a dataset of human-classified examples. In this recent study, a team led by Rhythm Shimakawa, an associate professor at Waseda University, trained an AI model using a set of 20,000 galaxies classified by participants in the GALAXY CRUISE project.

Once trained, the AI was set loose on the extensive dataset from the Subaru Telescope, successfully classifying 400,000 galaxies as spiral galaxies and 30,000 as ring galaxies. Despite ring galaxies constituting less than 5% of all galaxies, the sample size obtained through AI classification proved sufficient for meaningful statistical analysis. Intriguingly, statistical assessments revealed that ring galaxies exhibit intermediate characteristics between spiral and elliptical galaxies, aligning with the latest simulations conducted on supercomputers.

Insights from the Research and Future Prospects

The research findings, detailed in the article “GALAXY CRUISE: Spiral and ring classifications for bright galaxies at z = 0.01–0.3,” published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan, offer valuable insights into the nature of galaxies and their classifications. Rhythm Shimakawa emphasized the pivotal role of GALAXY CRUISE in enabling this research and expressed gratitude towards the citizen astronomers who contributed to the project over the past two years.

Shimakawa highlighted the efficiency of AI in classifying galaxies, with the capability to process data for 700,000 galaxies in under an hour. However, he underscored the indispensable nature of the data collected by GALAXY CRUISE, emphasizing the collaborative effort that underpins such groundbreaking discoveries. Looking ahead, Shimakawa expressed optimism for more collaborative outcomes in the future, suggesting a continued synergy between citizen scientists, AI technologies, and professional astronomers in unraveling the mysteries of the universe.

Impact of the Discovery and Implications for Astronomy

The discovery of 30,000 ring galaxies through the combined efforts of citizen astronomers and AI represents a significant milestone in the field of astronomy. By leveraging the collective power of human volunteers and advanced technology, researchers have expanded our understanding of galaxy morphology and evolution. The identification of ring galaxies, a rare and intriguing subset of galactic structures, offers new avenues for exploration and study.

Moreover, the successful integration of AI into the classification process demonstrates the potential for technology to enhance and accelerate astronomical research. With AI’s ability to process vast datasets efficiently, astronomers can delve deeper into the universe’s complexities and unlock hidden insights within the cosmic tapestry. This collaborative approach, bridging human expertise with machine learning capabilities, paves the way for future discoveries and advancements in the field of astronomy.

The discovery of 30,000 ring galaxies through the joint efforts of citizen astronomers and AI exemplifies the power of collaboration and innovation in unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos. As we peer into the depths of the universe, guided by the collective wisdom of humanity and the ingenuity of artificial intelligence, we continue to chart new frontiers and expand our knowledge of the vast celestial landscape that surrounds us.

Links to additional Resources:

1. Galaxy Cruise 2. Subaru Telescope 3. National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Galaxy classification, Subaru Telescope, Citizen science

Galaxy morphological classification
Galaxy morphological classification is a system used by astronomers to divide galaxies into groups based on their visual appearance. There are several schemes in use by which galaxies can be classified according to their morphologies, the most famous being the Hubble sequence, devised by Edwin Hubble and later expanded by...
Read more: Galaxy morphological classification

Subaru Telescope
Subaru Telescope (すばる望遠鏡, Subaru Bōenkyō) is the 8.2-metre (320 in) telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, located at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii. It is named after the open star cluster known in English as the Pleiades. It had the largest monolithic primary mirror in the world...
Read more: Subaru Telescope

Citizen science
Citizen science (similar to community science, crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, participatory monitoring, or volunteer monitoring) is research conducted with participation from the general public, or amateur/nonprofessional researchers or participants for science, social science and many other disciplines. There are variations in the exact definition of citizen science, with...
Read more: Citizen science

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