NASA announces discovery of solar system's 'twin' in distant space

NASA announces discovery of solar system's 'twin' in distant space

NASA announces discovery of solar system's 'twin' in distant space

With the new exoplanet, the Kepler-90 system ties our solar system for number of planets.

NASA used neural networking to find potential exoplanets from Kepler telescope data.

"For the first time, we've discovered an eighth planet in a distant planetary system", Paul Hertz, head of NASA's astrophysics division, said during a media briefing. Next, researchers are using machine learning with sophisticated computer algorithms to search for more planets around 150,000 stars in the Kepler database.

Scientists have known about Kepler-90, a star similar to the Sun located about 2,545 light-years from Earth for a while.

They refined their approach to identify exoplanets in Kepler data based on the change in light when a planet passed in front of its star. The average surface temperature is likely to be 800 Fahrenheit degrees.

"The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system", said Andrew Vanderburg, an astronomic researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who worked on the discovery.

As well as the key discovery of Kepler-90i, and other planet called Kepler-80g - an Earth-sized planet - was found in the Kepler-80 system in the constellation of Cygnus. This system was then utilized to search for the weaker signals in 670 star systems in which exoplanets had been previously discovered as they had the best chance of containing more celestial bodies. "You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer", said Vanderburg. Previously, earth΄s solar system had the largest known number of planets.

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Since 2009, Kepler has discovered thousands of exoplanets ranging between Earth-size and Neptune-size (four times the size of Earth).

Shallue said he became interested in applying Google΄s machine learning technology to astronomy when he learned that "the Kepler mission had collected so much data that it was impossible for scientists to examine it all manually".

But finding them will be a challenge, said study coauthor Christopher Shallue, a senior software engineer with the Google AI research team.

Regardless, it means that Kepler 90i, third rock though it may be, is too hot to be habitable.

When the scientists finally tested their neural network on signals that it had not seen before, it correctly sorted the planets from the false positives a whopping 96% of the time, Shallue said.

Besides, he said that this information would be a "treasure trove" that other experts will be able to use fpr further research. The result is an extremely stable system, similar to the seven planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.

But the exoplanet system differs from ours in at least one major way: The orbits of all eight planets would lie well within that of Earth, which takes 365 days to circle the sun. The research paper reporting this finding has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. In comparison, Mercury's orbit is 88 days. In the statement, the agency says that with the help of advanced computer analysis they have identified two new planets around distant stars. "I'm sure there are more firsts in the data waiting for people to find them".

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