Sunday, 8 March 2009


There is disagreement on the Galaxy Zoo Forum as to whether this galaxy is an overlap or a merger. I don't think it's either. I think it's a cat curled up, with its head and ears on the right, and its tail folded neatly around itself on the left.

(A widespread symptom of Galaxyzooitis is not only seeing galaxies in irrelevant objects such as clouds, coffee and keyboard symbols, but also seeing everyday objects in galaxies.)

I wish to propose an entirely new discipline of galaxy studies: galacticats. I have two excellent research colleagues in this endeavour, Georgia Bracey and Bill Keel, both experts on astronomy and furry felines. We present a sample of galacticats and their contributions to cosmology herewith.

Firstly, A Rare Conjunction of Cats. Astrophysicist Bracey observed a very rare scenario and concluded that, while coincidences are common, this particular incident was achieved under the influence of a comfortable stellar environment. As she explains, "Every now and then things in the universe arrange themselves so that it appears that one thing is very close to another thing. We call it a conjunction. It's a fairly rare event. . . However, even more rare is the conjunction of cats that you see in the picture above." She also points out that it is very well worth keeping your eyes open to spot these conjunctions, and I agree with her even though my powers of observation are something to be . . . er . . . modest about.

Overlapping Guru Keel, who suffers invasions of galacticats whilst packing his suitcases, nevertheless made useful observations of "The Overlapping Technique". He reports: "The overlap technique can be used to tell how transparent or opaque the foreground system is. From this, I conclude that cats are opaque except around the edges. Ahh, the power of science!"

As a follow-up, I will follow this by presenting the following classification of galacticats as follows:

An irregular galaxy, SDSS IZZY2AM, in the constellation of Lynx.
An elliptical galaxy in the constellation of Cassie-opiea.
An edge-on spiral galaxy, overlapping with a fainter one, in the constellation of Orion the Hunter.
This is not a galaxy but merely an artifact from two very bright nearby stars overloading the SDSS camera. Starry-eyed cats not only burn all their nuclear fuel at a terrific rate, but also reflect all the light that goes into them at the correct angle, i.e. have an albedo of 1.0!
This, on the other hand, is not an artifact but a pea, an OIII or doubly ionised oxygen containing quasar!
Cass-Jobs and Half65 positively identified this as a clockwise spiral galaxy.
Galacticats acquire dust lanes by collecting dust from the local environment.
A ring galaxy, probably a collisional ring due to interaction with Galaxy SOPHIE 378, in the constellation of Leo the lion.
Astronomers have reason to believe that these two multicoloured galaxies are beginning to interact.
In the constellation of Coma Berenices, a long tail indicates merging activity . . .
. . . as do strange loops and arcs.
The Galacticats Team would like to request volunteers' help to discover more galaxies; irregulars and four-armed spirals would be particularly interesting, plus whether these galaxies undergo a redshift as they begin to be allowed outside. We propose the pets thread on the Galaxy Zoo Forum as an initial study, to be followed by more specific contributions and classifications from citizen scientists in the future. We thank the public in advance.

This project proposal was written without the knowledge or permission of Georgia or Bill, but I hope you both enjoy it when you see it! Happy classificat-ion!


Pat said...

Very entertaining!!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Regrettably I will be unable to contribute to the Galacticat research effort, as I have recently been projected into the void by extreme activity and a pending supernova in the Loki-lized region of the Dog star.

Half65 said...

There is no word for this.
Funny, funny, funny.

Paddy said...

Great to see your two mischief makes having fun.
Love the Blog.

Anonymous said...

Could the loops and arcs in Coma Berenices be an example of lensing? :D They do make a nice circumference of ... something.

Btw, my interaction with the ring galaxy in Leo was not collisional, just cuddlesome :)