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Far Out! NSU Student, Faculty Developing Web App for Galaxy Classifications

: (from left) Biology major Chau Phung and assistant professor Stefan Kautsch, Ph.D., are among a group of NSU researchers developing a Web app for classifying galaxies. Phung and Kautsch presented their project at the 224th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston, Jun. 1–5.

Biology major Chau Phung and assistant professor Stefan Kautsch, Ph.D., are among a group of NSU researchers developing a Web app for classifying galaxies. Phung and Kautsch presented their project at the 224th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston, Jun. 1–5.

Attention aspiring astronomers: A group of NSU researchers are developing a Web application that enables you create your own galaxy classifications.

“Galaxy Classification Lab” is the product of ongoing research by biology major Chau Phung and Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences faculty members Stefan Kautsch, Ph.D., assistant professor; Michael Van Hilst, Ph.D., associate professor; and Victor Castro, Ph.D., assistant professor. The app was recently tested as part of an in-class research project in the college’s popular PHYS 1500 Introduction to Astronomy course, taught by Kautsch. The team aims to eventually release the program as an app in the Google Play store.

Phung and Kautsch recently presented a poster on the project—titled “A Visual Galaxy Classification Interface and Its Classroom Application”—at the 224th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston, Massachusetts, Jun. 1–5. The research, which was supported by a 2013–2014 President’s Faculty Research & Development Grant, received praise from several attendees representing NASA’s Center for Astronomy Education, who provided feedback on ways to expand the project.

While at the conference, Phung and Kautsch also attended several talks from renowned astrophysicists, covering topics such as dark energy, parallel universes, and future space missions planned by NASA, as well as a discussion about new and probably Earth-like planets, which are being detected everywhere in the Milky Way. Kautsch also served as a judge for the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards, presented at the conference.