Google's AI found two new exoplanets

This is the only eight-planet solar system found like ours - so far - tying for the most planets observed around a single star.

The alien planet Kepler-90i, which orbits the star Kepler-90 2,545 light-years from Earth, is seen in this illustration from a NASA video.

The Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) has set another benchmark by helping NASA discover two exoplanets, which include an eighth planet revolving around Kepler-90, a distant star.

The exciting discovery was made by NASA's Kepler telescope, which studies some 15,000 stars every minute. Kepler 90 star is 2722 light years away and was previously known to have seven planets around it- Kepler-90b, 90c, 90d, 90e, 90f, 90g, 90h. The planet completes an orbit around its star in 14.4 Earth days which shows its fast pace.

"About 30 percent larger than Earth, Kepler-90i is so close to its star that its average surface temperature is believed to exceed 800 degrees Fahrenheit, on par with Mercury".

The eighth planet in the Kepler-90 system has been named Kepler-90i. Kepler-80g is Earth-sized in a synchronized orbit with the other five planets around its star.

Christopher Shallue, a senior software engineer at Google AI in California, and Andrew Vanderburg, astronomer and NASA Sagan postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, Austin, wanted to develop a machine able to differentiate images of exoplanets.

A newly discovered planet orbiting a very Sun-like star about 2,500 light years away is remarkable for two reasons: For one, it brings the total number of known planets in that system up to eight - the same as ours!


The latest discovery is just one of the few breakthroughs in machine learning in recent times including work done by Google's DeepMind, such as AlphaGo.

While machine learning has previously been used in searches of the Kepler database, this research demonstrates that neural networks are a promising tool in finding some of the weakest signals of distant worlds.

What's perhaps even more remarkable is that just by looking at this data scientists can determine its size, distance from the star and even some basic information about its composition and atmosphere.

"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.

Today's news doesn't mean that human astronomers will soon be replaced by machine learning-based robots. Shallue became involved in the search after Googling for "finding exoplanets with large data sets".

Dive into the details of Shallue and Vanderburg's research paper, accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. However, the weakest signals often are missed using these methods.

It was detected via tiny dips in the brightness of the star when the planet passed in front of it. "I'm sure there are more firsts in the data waiting for people to find them". "There may be many exoplanets still unfound in Kepler data, and new ideas and techniques like machine learning will help fuel celestial discoveries for many years to come".

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