Researchers Find New Exoplanet Using Artificial Intelligence

The data came from the Kepler telescope which Nasa launched into space in 2009 as part of a planet-finding mission that is expected to end next year as the spacecraft runs out of fuel

Researchers Find New Exoplanet Using Artificial Intelligence

Kepler 90-i lives 2,545 light-years from Earth and, like the rest of the planets in its solar system, is closer to its sun than Earth is.

The Kepler 90i is one of the new planets, and orbits its star every 14 days. Similarly, the larger and more gaseous planets in the Kepler-90 system are farther away from the parent star, quite similar to the relation between Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus with the sun.

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. Going through all the data to manually locate any signs of new planets out in the void is quite hard, but the researchers at Google are working to change that.

In a paper posted at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg explained how they trained a neural network, a computing system that mimics the way the human brain works, to sift through the massive quantities of Kepler data and "pick out" signals indicating the presence of exoplanets.

"There's so much data humans can't look through it", Vanderburg told Observer. Other planetary systems probably hold more promise for life than Kepler-90.

In order to locate Kepler-90's planets NASA's AI had to scan through a daunting thirty five thousand potential signals from distant stars, over a period of four years. In our solar system, only Mercury and Venus orbit between our planet and our sun. The latter, on the other hand, has turned out to be the eighth planet orbiting its star, marking the discovery of the first alien solar system with as many planets as our own.

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"Today Kepler confirms that stars can have large families of planets just like our solar system".

The Trappist-1 star system, which hosts a record seven Earth-like planets, was one of the biggest discoveries of 2017.

"Machine learning really shines in situations where there is so much data that humans can't search it for themselves", Shallue said. They plan to follow up these discoveries by using AI to examine the entire Kepler system, which is comprised of 150,000 stars.

"What is perhaps most exciting is that they are able to find planets that were previously missed, suggesting there are more yet to be found using this approach", Suzanne Aigrain, an astrophysicist at Oxford University said to The Guardian.

After the neural network was trained manually to identify passing exoplanets by analyzing 15,000 signals from the Kepler catalogue, it started giving correct results for true planets and false positives in 96 percent of cases. Then, with the neural network having "learned" to detect the pattern of a transiting exoplanet, the researchers directed their model to search for weaker signals in 670 star systems that already had multiple known planets. Astronomers had never before observed an eight-planet network beside the solar system that includes Earth, researchers said. He also compared the finding of exoplanets to sifting through rocks with a fine sieve to find jewels.

Kepler-90i is the third planet from its star just like the Earth. This one, the Earth-size Kepler-80g, and four of its neighboring planets form what is called a "resonant chain", where the planets are locked by their mutual gravity in a rhythmic orbital dance.

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