Radio Galaxy Zoo – Help Hunt Down Supermassive Black Holes

By Robert Hollow

18 December 2013

Lurking at the core of most galaxies, supermassive black holes sometimes give themselves away through huge jets of radio emission streaming out vast distances into space. We can’t “see” these using optical telescopes, rather astronomers use radio telescopes to make an image of the region. Now you can help astronomers find more of these jets and the associated radio galaxy by taking part in Radio Galaxy Zoo.

An example of a Radio Galaxy Zoo composite image showing the radio jets as contours with a central core galaxy in infrared.

An example of a Radio Galaxy Zoo composite image showing the radio jets as contours with a central core galaxy in infrared.

Launched today, Radio Galaxy Zoo is the latest project in Galaxy Zoo, a highly successful citizen project that now forms part of the Zooniverse that co-funder Dr Chris Lintott discussed recently. In Radio Galaxy Zoo you will help identify radio galaxies using data from CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array by comparing them with infrared images from the WISE  survey using the Spitzer Space Telescope.

CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array

CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array

By participating you will help astronomers trying to answer questions such as:

Dr Julie Banfield, Radio Galaxy Zoo Principal Investigtor, describing the Radio Galaxy Zoo Project at the recent Astroinformatics Conference at CASS Headquarters.

Dr Julie Banfield, Radio Galaxy Zoo Project Scientist, describing the Radio Galaxy Zoo Project at the recent Astroinformatics Conference at CASS Headquarters.

Members of the Radio Galaxy Zoo team will be describing the science behind the project on the  Galaxy Zoo Blog over coming days. Why don’t you visit and find out more about this exciting project then join in the discussion on the Galaxy Zoo Talk forum. Even better, take part in Radio Galaxy Zoo yourself, it’s free and easy to sign up for.