Australian Astronomical Observatory | 2016 Sep 13
The research, made possible by cutting-edge AAO instrumentation, means that astronomers can now classify galaxies according to their physical properties rather than human interpretation of a galaxy’s appearance.
For the past 200 years, telescopes have been capable of observing galaxies beyond our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
Only a few were visible to begin with but as telescopes became more powerful, more galaxies were discovered, making it crucial for astronomers to come up with a way to consistently group different types of galaxies together.
In 1926, the famous American astronomer Edwin Hubble refined a system that classified galaxies into categories of spiral, elliptical, lenticular or irregular shape. This system, known as the Hubble sequence, is the most common way of classifying galaxies to this day.
Despite its success, the criteria on which the Hubble scheme is based are subjective, and only indirectly related to the physical properties of galaxies. This has significantly hampered attempts to identify the evolutionary pathways followed by different types of galaxies as they slowly change over billions of years. ...
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