Alphabet Inc’s Google and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced on Thursday that computer analysis has helped identify two new planets around distant stars. One of them is a part of a star system that has as many planets as Earth’s own solar system.
“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,” Nasa said in a press release. 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,” the agency added.
“The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system,” said Andrew Vanderburg, a Nasa Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow and Astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin in the United States. “You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer.”
The research, conducted by Google and the University of Texas, used Artificial Intelligence or software programmes that learned the differences between planets and other objects to find the two new ones. The software’s artificial “neural network” combed through data about 670 star systems to discover planets Kepler 90i and Kepler 80.
“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.”