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Photometric Asymmetry Between Clockwise and Counterclockwise Spiral Galaxies in SDSS

  • Lior Shamir (a1)

While galaxies with clockwise and counterclockwise handedness are visually different, they are expected to be symmetric in all of their other characteristics. Previous experiments using both manual analysis and machine vision have shown that the handedness of Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxies can be predicted with accuracy significantly higher than mere chance using its photometric data alone. However, some of these previous experiments were based on manually classified galaxies, and the results may therefore be subjected to bias originated from the human perception. This paper describes an experiment based on a set of 162,514 galaxies classified automatically to clockwise and counterclockwise spiral galaxies, showing that the source of the asymmetry in Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) database is not the human perception bias. The results are compared to two smaller datasets, and confirm the observation that the handedness of SDSS galaxies can be predicted by their photometry. The experiment also shows statistically significant differences in the measured magnitude of SDSS galaxies, according which galaxies with clockwise patterns are brighter than galaxies with counterclockwise patterns. The magnitude of that difference changes across RA ranges, and exhibits a strong correlation with the cosine of the right ascension.

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Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
  • ISSN: 1323-3580
  • EISSN: 1448-6083
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