Another 8-planet solar system? 7 things about Kepler's 'sizzling' discovery

Artificial Intelligence and NASA Data Used to Discover Eighth Planet Circling Distant Star

Using machine learning and neural networks to achieve something humans could not, weak signal data from NASA's Kepler space telescope was scrutinized using Google machine learning technology to make the discovery.

Kepler-90i is a rocky planet that is about 30 percent larger than the Earth. Applying this process, researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg trained a computer to identify Kepler's light readings, that is the minute changes in brightness that are caused by a planet passing in front of a star.

NASA estimated the planet΄s surface temperature to be around 426 degrees Celsius (800 Fahrenheit) and said it likely was inhospitable to life.

"The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system", according to Vanderburg, a NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow and astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin.

To give a sense of how close, the outermost planet in the system orbits at around the same distance the Earth does from the Sun.

Astronomers had never before observed an eight-planet network beside the solar system that includes Earth, researchers said. Now, an eighth planet has been identified in this planetary system, making it tied with our own solar system in having the highest number of known planets.

U.S. space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Thursday announced the discovery of an eighth planet orbiting the star Kepler-90, which makes the explanatory system nearly like our own solar system and breaking the record for the star with the most exoplanets.

In recent years, to tackle data analysis in science, finance and other industries by automated software is possible due to advancements in hardware and new techniques in machine learning.

Kepler has produced an unprecedented data set for exoplanet hunting.

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How did Google use its machine learning tech? .

"There are simply too many weak signals to examine using the existing methods", Shallue said.

In this case, software learned differences between planets and other objects by analyzing thousands of data points, achieving 96 percent accuracy, NASA said at a news conference.

The eighth planet discovered by the scientists is, in fact, the third in the Kepler-90 System's order.

"Their assumption was that multiple-planet systems would be the best places to look for more exoplanets", researchers wrote in the press release. It has a shorter orbit than Mercury's, completing a circle around its star once every two weeks. He also compared the finding of exoplanets to sifting through rocks with a fine sieve to find jewels.

Shallue, a senior software engineer at Google AI, made a decision to apply a neural network concept to the vast amounts of Kepler data in his spare time.

"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.

The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it.

During its first test run of 15,000 previously-vetted exoplanet signals, the AI was able to identify true planets with 96pc accuracy, then with this new knowledge the AI could take that and apply it to the rest of the 20,000 signals. "I'm sure there are more firsts in the data waiting for people to find them".

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