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.
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.
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)
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.
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."
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.
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