NASA, Google Announce Solar System with Eight Planets

Joanna Estrada
December 16, 2017

This man-made neural network worked tirelessly by sifting through tons of Kepler data, finally finding weak transit signals that indicated the possibility of a yet-undiscovered eighth planet in the constellation Draco.

Nasa and Google have revealed the astonishing results of a joint effort to find alien planets orbiting distant stars.

This planet-hunting work has been incredibly successful.

When Kepler was first launched in 2009, astronomers didn't know how common planets around other stars were.

The eighth planet in the Kepler-90 system has been named Kepler-90i. In October 2016, Shallue, who is interested in astronomy, chose to use about a fifth of his time at work (Google calls it 20% time, and allows its employees to pursue a pet project during those hours) to find a way to use machine learning to more quickly cipher through Kepler's data. "A neural network is a machine learning algorithm inspired by the human brain", explained Shallue.

Though Kepler is still searching the skies, the data it has already sent back could contain evidence of even more exoplanets. Will we suddenly see far more candidates elevated to confirmed exoplanets? Shallue and Vanderburg found that the artificial neural network identified such signals correctly 96 percent of the time. It shows that star systems with eight planets perhaps aren't as uncommon as past evidence displayed. That tied the Kepler-90 system with the seven-planet Trappist-1 system for the honor of most populous known exoplanet solar system.

Google and NASA scientist claims to find two new plants in our solar system.

The telescope was built to discover other planets similar to Earth which could potentially sustain life, and now it has made a discovery so significant that its worth holding a press conference for. And these planets resemble those around us: rocky planets circling in orbit near the star, with gas giants farther away. Orbiting close to its star, its surface would be "sizzling hot", Nasa scientists said, and it is not a contender for harbouring life. "Today Kepler confirms that stars can have large families of planets just like our solar system". "You have little planets inside and enormous planets outside, however everything is scrunched in substantially nearer", Vanderburg said.

"Their assumption was that multiple-planet systems would be the best places to look for more exoplanets", researchers wrote in the press release.

They refined their approach to identify exoplanets in Kepler data based on the change in light when a planet passed in front of its star.

What's really incredible about Kepler-90 as a system though is how all its planets are aligned with the star. The one orbiting Kepler 90 (known as Kepler 90i) is particularly interesting.

A subset of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning is about automating repetitive tasks, essentially training a computer to recognize patterns and categorize data.

Researchers hope astronomers will use this form of automation via machine learning as a tool to help astronomers make more of an impact, increase their productivity and inspire more people become astronomers.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER