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Undergrad Galaxy

December 30, 2008

University of Wisconsin undergraduates discover a new galaxy during an astronomy class.


A very eventful astronomy class. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For some undergrads, a successful class means staying awake. But five University of Wisconsin astronomy students have set that bar much higher, by discovering a new galaxy. Professor Snezana Stanimirovic had scored a couple hours for the class to remotely operate the world’s largest radiotelescope. Near the end, student Adam Beardsley’s group pointed the scope to an area called the Zone of Avoidance. The view is so hazy that most pros don’t bother looking there.

ADAM BEARDSLEY (University of Wisconsin, Madison):
I think the last, like ten minutes or so, we actually looked at this particular galaxy, and were able to detect it within just ten minutes of looking.

Although the universe is chock full of galaxies, Stanimirovic says discoveries like this are still uncommon, especially in this poorly mapped area. No word yet on the students’ final grades. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.