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Agency finds ENTIRE solar system filled with planets using AI — NASA announcement

16 December 2017

With eight planets whirling around its sun, our solar system has held the galactic title for having the most known planets of any star system in the Milky Way. The planet was found in information from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. "The planet was discovered in data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope", NASA explained in a press release.

This is one of two new exoplanets scraped from the massive archive of data from the Kepler space telescope by NASA's Andrew Vanderburg and Christopher Shallue of the Google AI team.

"Just as we expected, there are exciting discoveries lurking in our archived Kepler data, waiting for the right tool or technology to unearth them, said Paul Hertz, director of NASA s Astrophysics Division in Washington".

"This finding shows that our data will be a treasure trove available to innovative researchers for years to come".

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As explained in a press release from NASA, researchers were able to identify the previously missed planet by adopting machine learning techniques that are created to find patterns in data the same way human brains do.

"Instead scientists selected the strongest signals, which are the most likely to be actual planets, to receive the most attention". Because it's so close to its star, it's extremely hot with an average surface temperature over 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kepler-90 is a large, hot star located in the Draco constellation about 2,500 light years from Earth.

"You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer". Automated tests, and sometimes human eyes, are used to verify the most promising symbols in the data. Some planets are more obvious than others, and the goal here was to turn the algorithm loose on digging through past measurements for weak signals that had been missed.

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The finding was made using data collected by Nasa's Kepler Space Telescope, a planet hunter that has spotted more than 2,500 confirmed exoplanets since its launch in 2009. Their assumption was that multiple-planet systems would be the best places to look for more exoplanets.

"There is a lot of unexplored real estate in the Kepler 90 system", said Vanderburg. "If you have a finer sieve, then you will catch more rocks, but you might catch more gems, as well". In the Kepler-80 system, they discovered the sixth planetoid.

Their analysis paper describing these findings has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. Of the 150,000 stars represented in Kepler's collection, the computer combed through 670 star systems for signs of exoplanets. So far, the data set has about 35,000 such signals.

Shallue said he became interested in applying Google's machine learning technology to astronomy when he learned that "the Kepler mission had collected so much data that it was impossible for scientists to examine it all manually". On its second run, the K2 mission, Kepler observed an additional 200,000 stars. This work was performed through the Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowship Program executed by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute.

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Agency finds ENTIRE solar system filled with planets using AI — NASA announcement