Daily Orbit – Cataloguing Galaxies

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,832
    9-25-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, citizen scientists create the largest catalogue ever of galaxies, there’s a new estimate on the moon’s age, and there was an explosion at the heart of our galaxy.

    Crowdsourcing for classification…


    How old is the moon?


    How can a 2 million year old explosion still be seen today?


    We’re spacing out on the Daily Orbit!


    Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit.  I’m Emerald Robinson.


    Okay Space Lovers. Today’s show is for you!  


    Eighty-three thousand volunteers, 300,000 galaxies, 16 million galaxy classifications and an equivalent of 30 years of work all rolled up into one to create the Galaxy Zoo 2 Project.  An international group of citizen scientists collaborated with the University of Minnesota in a galaxy crowdsourcing project to create a catalogue of more than 300,000 nearby galaxies. Researchers say computers are good at measuring properties like size and color, but they’re not so good at things like shape and structure.  Each image was classified an average of 40-45 times to total more than 16 million classifications of the more than 300,000 galaxies to create the largest catalogue ever.  Researchers said it would have taken one lone researcher about 30 years of work to complete such a feat.  The catalogue can be found at data.galaxyzoo.org.  Didn’t pitch in on this one?  No worries!  You can join the next one to help create a catalogue of galaxies from the distant past.  Go to galaxyzoo.org to participate.


    I see the moon and the moon sees me.  How old is the moon? Ya got me!  Geochemist Richard Carlson of the Carnegie Institution of Washington says that the moon is about 100 million years younger than previously thought.  Even though the moon is our closest neighbor, we still don’t know exactly how or when it formed.  While most scientists are interested in the “how,” Carlson’s intrigued with the “when?” He puts it at 4.4 billion to 4.45 billion years old based on radioactive dating of lunar rocks returned by the Apollo Moon missions.  He also said the most interesting implication from this is to imagine what Earth was like before it had a moon?  Hmm… imagining. Glad we have the Moon now!


    And moving on up the timeline of the universe to a couple million years ago, when the sleeping dragon at the heart of our galaxy awoke, breathing fire and emitting light that shines today.  A team of researchers led by the University of Sydney says the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, called Sagittarius A*, erupted 2 million years ago with 100 times the power it has today. They say the eruption explains the odd glow from the Magellanic Stream that trails behind our galaxy’s two companion galaxies, the large and small Magellanic Clouds, and two huge bubbles of hot gas coming from Sagittarius A* discovered by NASA’s Fermi satellite. They both have matching energies, which indicate an explosion two million years ago.  They say this find is exciting because it confirms that black holes can flicker, or switch on and off, in short periods of time.    It also begs the question, could it happen again?  Researcher said--”Absolutely!


    New research from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that married cancer patients have better outcomes than their single or widowed counterparts.  Unmarried cancer patients were 17% more likely to have cancer spread beyond its original site, and 53% less likely to receive the appropriate therapy. Researchers suspect it’s due to the social support that spouses offer by accompany patients to visits and making sure they understand and follow doc’s orders.  They say it means that, despite marriage, anyone who is there for a friend or loved one with cancer can make a real difference in that person’s outcome.  Past research has shown other health benefits of marriage.  Anyone want to marry me? 


    And though you fear that marriage might hack your heart metaphorically there is such a thing as a heart-hack.  Implantable medical devices, such as pacemakers, can be hacked and researchers at Rice University have developed a secure way to keep out the hackers.  Their technology uses a patient’s own heartbeat as a password.   The new system, called Heart-to-Heart, would require someone wanting access to the IMD to actually touch the patient; then the internal and external devices would use an EKG to identify the heartbeat as a password and a handshake completes the process to gain access.  Since the heartbeat is different every second the password is different each time.  And already implanted IMDs could be updated to use this technology.  Ah… they’ve got a lot of heart.


    And that’s the Daily Orbit!