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Australian Gemini School Astronomy Contest: 2010

Contest-Winning Image Unveiled!!

Image credit: Sydney Girls High School Astronomy Club, Travis
Rector, Angel Lopez-Sanchez, and the Australian Gemini Office

On 22 March, the Grand Prize was unveiled to the Sydney Girls High School (SGHS) Astronomy Club, winners of the 2010 Gemini School Astronomy Contest. This image of the collision between two galaxies, NGC 6872 and IC 4970, was taken by the Gemini South telescope in Chile at the recommendation of the SGHS students.

The Grand Unveiling took place at SGHS, where the Australian Gemini Office's Christopher Onken gave the girls their first glimpse of the image they requested. The Australian Astronomical Observatory's Ángel López-Sánchez then explained the fascinating science of galaxy collisions, and showed the students how the image had been put together.

Even "minor mergers" like this one, in which one galaxy is much smaller than the other, can have a dramatic effect on the shape, colour, and other features of the galaxy. The blue clusters of stars that have been formed in the collision will become redder as the most massive stars end their lives in supernova explosions. The giant spiral arms of NGC 6872 that have been stretched out by the interaction with IC 4970 will eventually be pulled back toward the main body of the galaxy. Ultimately, the two galaxies will merge together, but the image shows the first stages of that process, which will take hundreds of millions of years to complete.

Congratulations again to the Sydney Girls High School Astronomy Club!

For a high-resolution version of the contest image, click here [25 MB].

The Australian Gemini Office is thrilled to announce the results of the 2010 Gemini School Astronomy Contest. High school students from across Australia vied for the opportunity to have an astronomical target of their choice imaged by the Gemini Observatory.

The winning entries were chosen by a panel selected from the fields of professional astronomy, science education, journalism, and art. All of the entries demonstrated a great level of research and creative thinking. We congratulate each of the participants for their tremendous efforts.

First Prize:


By submitting the winning entry, the SGHS Astronomy Club will have their target observed by the Gemini South telescope sometime in the next few months, and the final picture will be put together by specialists from the Gemini Observatory.

In addition, all three of the winning groups will be able to participate in a Live From Gemini interactive videoconference, connecting the classrooms to scientists in the Gemini Observatory control room.

Congratulations to the SGHS Astronomy Club, the runners-up, and the other students who submitted such terrific entries into this year's contest.

Image credit: Gemini Observatory

For details of the 2010 Contest, please look here. The 2009 Contest information can be found here.
Australian Gemini Office, ausgo -@-