Published: Sat, December 16, 2017
Sci-tech | By Bennie Mills

Star system has file eight exoplanets

Star system has file eight exoplanets

"As the application of neutral networks to Kepler data matures, who knows what might be discovered", said Jessie Dotson, a NASA project scientist for the Kepler space telescope.

Like Earth, Kepler-90i is the third planet in its system of eight from its sun, and it's about 30% larger than Earth, making it a "super-Earth" (the term for any extrasolar planet with a mass higher than Earth's).

NASA, in a statement informed "Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star,".

Advancements in hardware and new techniques for machine learning have made it possible in recent years for automated software to tackle data analysis in science, finance and other industries.

The Kepler-90 announcement on Thursday was hailed an exciting development in analysing a treasure trove of data collected by the telescope.

Paul Hertz, Director of the Astrophysics Division, said: "The planet Kepler-90i is not likely to have life since it is so close to the star Kepler-90 that the surface temperature is 800 Fahrenheit".

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"The Kepler-90 star system is similar to a mini version of our solar system".

NASA has used Google's artificial intelligence (AI) to discover a record-tying eighth exoplanet circling a Sun-like star 2,545 light-years from Earth, marking the first finding of an eight-planet solar system like ours.

Researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg are credited for training the computers to learn to identify exoplanets in the light readings recorded by Kepler.

Searching 672 stars, the AI program was able to pick up signals of two new planets.

But the NASA engineers believe there may even be solar systems with more than that.

"It would nearly be surprising to me if there weren't any more planets in around that star".

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Kepler launched back in March 2009, and it's become one of NASA's main pieces of kit.

More planets are expected to be found, because researchers plan to apply their neural network to Kepler's full set of more than 150,000 stars.

It was then fed the data for 670 stars that have had at least one planet identified already in the hopes that more would turn up. However, the weakest signals often are missed using these methods. These cycles are good indicators that a planet is orbiting the star, and based on the time it takes to dim and how quickly it brightens, information on length of orbit and size of the planet can be extrapolated.

It's called transiting and if the telescope spots repeated transits at regular times it must mean an orbit and therefore a planet.

In February, for instance, scientists announced an entire solar system of exoplanets relatively near our own. "The planet was discovered in data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope", NASA explained in a press release.

"Machine learning really shines when there is too much data for humans to examine for themselves", he added.

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While its primary mission is to look for exoplanets (a planet which orbits a star outside our solar system), it is also tasked with "studying young stars, supernovae and other cosmic phenomena", according to NASA.

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