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posted by takyon on Thursday December 14 2017, @06:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the where's-planet-nine? dept.

Google's research team Google AI has applied machine learning to data from NASA's Kepler space observatory, finding an 8th exoplanet orbiting Kepler-90 (2,545 ly away). The team also found a sixth exoplanet orbiting Kepler-80 (1,100 ly away):

Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star, with the recent discovery of an eighth planet circling Kepler-90, a Sun-like star 2,545 light years from Earth. The planet was discovered in data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope.

The newly-discovered Kepler-90i – a sizzling hot, rocky planet that orbits its star once every 14.4 days – was found using machine learning from Google. Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence in which computers "learn." In this case, computers learned to identify planets by finding in Kepler data instances where the telescope recorded signals from planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets.

[...] Kepler-90i wasn't the only jewel this neural network sifted out. In the Kepler-80 system, they found a sixth planet. This one, the Earth-sized Kepler-80g, and four of its neighboring planets form what is called a resonant chain – where planets are locked by their mutual gravity in a rhythmic orbital dance. The result is an extremely stable system, similar to the seven planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.

Their research paper reporting these findings has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. [Christopher] Shallue and [Andrew] Vanderburg plan to apply their neural network to Kepler's full set of more than 150,000 stars.

The size of Kepler-90i is estimated at 1.32 ± 0.21 Earth radii. Surface temperature is estimated at 435°C (709 K).

Kepler-80g is likely smaller at 1.13 ± 0.14 Earth radii, with a cooler surface temperature of 144°C (418 K).

The outermost known exoplanet in the Kepler-90 system, Kepler-90h, has a mass under 1.2 Jupiter masses and a temperature of around 292 K (19 °C; 66 °F), so it may be a good candidate for hosting life on a moon.

NASA will host a Reddit AMA at 3 PM EST to discuss the findings.

Also at University of Texas at Austin.

Related: Seven Earth-Sized Exoplanets, Including Three Potentially Habitable, Identified Around TRAPPIST-1

Previously: Google and NASA to Reveal Mysterious New Space Find


Original Submission

Related Stories

Seven Earth-Sized Exoplanets, Including Three Potentially Habitable, Identified Around TRAPPIST-1 41 comments

Astronomers have observed enough planetary transits to confirm the existence of seven "Earth-sized" exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool (~2550 K) red dwarf star about 39.5 light years away. Three of the exoplanets are located inside the "habitable zone" of their parent star. These three orbit from 0.028 to 0.045 AU away from the star:

Astronomers using the TRAPPIST–South telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as other telescopes around the world, have now confirmed the existence of at least seven small planets orbiting the cool red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. All the planets, labelled TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h in order of increasing distance from their parent star, have sizes similar to Earth.

The exoplanets are presumed to be tidally locked. The six closest to TRAPPIST-1 have been determined to be rocky, while the seventh, TRAPPIST-1h, requires additional observations to determine its characteristics due to its longer orbital period.

Mass estimates for the planets range from 0.41 Earth masses (M) to 1.38 M. Radii range from 0.76 Earth radii (R) to 1.13 R.

Spitzer, Hubble, and other telescopes will continue to make observations of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system, but the best data will likely come from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is scheduled to launch in late 2018. JWST will allow the atmospheres and temperatures of many exoplanets to be characterized, which will help to settle whether the "habitable zones" of red dwarf stars are actually hospitable.

Artist illustrations and data for the TRAPPIST-1 system compared to Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Earth.

Here's a website dedicated to the star.

Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 (DOI: 10.1038/nature21360) (DX)


Original Submission

Google and NASA to Reveal Mysterious New Space Find 10 comments

NASA will be hosting a somewhat unusual press conference on Thursday (NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 14) to announce the latest find from its planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope. Kepler has found many hundreds of planets beyond our solar system over the years, but this week's announcement will be different because Google will be sharing in the science spotlight.

"The discovery was made by researchers using machine learning from Google," reads a release from the space agency, adding that the breakthrough "demonstrates new ways of analyzing Kepler data."

Exactly what has been discovered won't be revealed until Thursday, but with Kepler there's always a good chance that some new distant planets will be part of the reveal. Expect to hear something about a new era of planet-hunting assisted by artificial intelligence: That would be my guess for Thursday. We'll just have to wait and see if Google's A.I. is also helping to detect signs of alien life on the numerous worlds beyond our solar system as well.

https://www.cnet.com/news/google-nasa-kepler-artificial-intelligence-machine-learning-planets/


Original Submission

NASA Retires the Kepler Space Telescope after It Runs Out of Hydrazine 15 comments

NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope

After nine years in deep space collecting data that indicate our sky to be filled with billions of hidden planets - more planets even than stars - NASA's Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel needed for further science operations. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life.

"As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm. Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars."

Kepler Space Telescope Put into Hibernation Mode before Start of 19th Observation Campaign 4 comments

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Pauses Science Observations to Download Science Data

Earlier this week, NASA's Kepler team received an indication that the spacecraft fuel tank is running very low. NASA has placed the spacecraft in a hibernation-like state in preparation to download the science data collected in its latest observation campaign. Once the data has been downloaded, the expectation is to start observations for the next campaign with any remaining fuel.

[...] To bring the data home, the spacecraft must point its large antenna back to Earth and transmit the data during its allotted Deep Space Network time, which is scheduled in early August. Until then, the spacecraft will remain stable and parked in a no-fuel-use safe mode. On August 2, the team will command the spacecraft to awaken from its no-fuel-use state and maneuver the spacecraft to the correct orientation and downlink the data. If the maneuver and download are successful, the team will begin its 19th observation campaign on August 6 with the remaining fuel.

Also at The Verge and Engadget.

Related: Google Researchers Discover an 8th Planet in the Kepler-90 System
Citizen Scientists Credited for Discovery of Multi-Planet System
Kepler's K2 Mission Going Strong With Another 95 New Exoplanets Confirmed
NASA's TESS Mission Set to Launch on Wednesday, April 18


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday December 14 2017, @06:45PM (12 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday December 14 2017, @06:45PM (#609798) Journal

    It would sure be funny if we find a system with 9+ exoplanets before we find (if it exists) Planet Nine [wikipedia.org] (not Pluto).

    Note that all of the exoplanets found in Kepler-90 [wikipedia.org] and Kepler-80 [wikipedia.org] have an estimated radius above Earth's, so they are likely to be considered planets and not dwarf planets. Pluto = 0.1868 Earth radii, Mercury = 0.3829 Earth radii.

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    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Thursday December 14 2017, @06:51PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Thursday December 14 2017, @06:51PM (#609803) Homepage

      nIGGERS.

    • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:11PM (5 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:11PM (#609813)

      I had this reaction:

      The size of Kepler-90i is estimated at 1.32 ± 0.21 Earth radii...

      Cool, Earthlike!

      Surface temperature is estimated at 435°C (709 K).

      Bugger! Not Earthlike.

      Not that we're likely to go there, but it would have been nice to know there was a really proper Earthilke planet out there.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:14PM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:14PM (#609816) Journal

        it would have been nice to know there was a really proper Earthilke planet out there.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_potentially_habitable_exoplanets [wikipedia.org]

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      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:17PM (2 children)

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:17PM (#609820)

        Surface temperature is estimated at 435°C (709 K).

        Bugger! Not Earthlike.

        Nope, it's Venuslike. It sounds just like Venus, just a little bit more massive.

        It could still have aliens living there in cloud cities...

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:23PM (1 child)

          by bob_super (1357) on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:23PM (#609822)

          Since we don't know yet which planet has an atmosphere and what those are made of, a lot more Earthlikes might turn out to be Venuslikes.
          And some Marslikes might be Earthlikes.
          Those estimates are purely based on star brightness/distance.
          As we see here, a few degrees can change a planet a lot.

          • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday December 14 2017, @09:23PM

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday December 14 2017, @09:23PM (#609881)

            Well yeah, it doesn't take much for a planet to go from warm enough to support life like ours, to just a little too cold for it to really get anywhere (remember Hoth in Star Wars? There's no way significant life like taun-tauns would have evolved there, unless the planet used to be warmer).

            But when we can tell with somewhat reasonable accuracy that a planet is 400+C, then it's not going to be anything at all like Earth, and a lot more like Venus. That's hot enough to melt lead; no biological life like Earth's can survive there.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday December 14 2017, @10:10PM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday December 14 2017, @10:10PM (#609914) Journal

        Also see what I wrote about Kepler-90h.

        All of the known gas giants in our solar system have moons. If we find a large Planet Nine, it will probably have moons.

        Titan happens to have an atmosphere thicker than Earth's.

        The search for the first confirmed exomoon is on. One candidate could be Neptune-sized [nouse.co.uk]. There may be nothing stopping moons from being Earth-like in mass/size, especially if they orbit gas giants more massive than Jupiter.

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:48PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:48PM (#609833) Journal

      I was thinking that finding Planet 9 would break the tie and put our solar system back on top. As if "most planets" is a contest, and that it matters.

      What I'm really wondering is whether the stellar wobble exoplanet hunting technique can be applied right here in our solar system to find more planets. Since we're so much closer to the sun, shouldn't the technique be far more sensitive, maybe sensitive enough to detect Planet 9 and 10, and indicate where in their orbits they might be right now?

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @08:20PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @08:20PM (#609847)

      Neptune is a dwarf planet. It hasn't cleared its orbit.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:24PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @07:24PM (#609823)

    The pictures/photos of these newly discovered planets are amazing! Must be using at least a 4megapixel Kodak camera or better. I look in these same spots with my telescope and see only darkness. Amazing technology NASA has with these cameras.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @08:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @08:09PM (#609840)

      i have to say I am disappointed that they generated some excitement by stating they'd make an announcement, and all it is is oh look our advertising and marketing overlords of personal tracking have tracked new planets too

      i dont feel any better about it knowing they can find hidden planets in far away star systems, too. may as well send them ads and leave us alone

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @08:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14 2017, @08:12PM (#609842)

      wait what photos

      do you mean the artist intepretation?

  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Friday December 15 2017, @03:52PM

    by Freeman (732) on Friday December 15 2017, @03:52PM (#610321) Journal

    Wouldn't it be potentially more beneficial to focus on our Solar System and finding everything there is here? Not that it's not cool to know we can detect planets orbiting star systems that are 2,000 light years away. Unless someone invents a warp drive equivalent, anything outside our solar system is too far for us to be much interested in at this point. At least as far as potential interaction with said systems is concerned. I'm Christian and as such definitively believe that Aliens do exist. My ideas about Aliens differ quite a bit from most people's ideas about Aliens, though. Still, it would be cool to be able to visit planets and / or establish outposts / bases in our own Solar System. That's something that we could potentially do in my Life time. Which would be rather cool. Current means of propulsion would take many life times to get anywhere near a system that could potentially be hospitable. Assuming, a hospitable planet could be found in the system we aim at. 'cause unless I'm mistaken, pretty much all of the potentially habitable planets are purely theoretical. It could turn out that 100% of the ones we have detected are inhospitable. Personally, I think it would be awesome, if each system had it's own sentient species. The unique thing about us, is that we were made in the image of God. Again, random Christian thinking about potential possibilities. God, didn't create Humans first. He at least created the Angels first. What if, every other star system in the universe contains it's own sentient life. That would be mindbogglingly Awesome. Just my two cents.

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