Scientists just recently discovered the eighth planet in the Kepler planetary system, in which seven other planets were found orbiting Kepler-90 in 2014. With the discovery of this new planet, it makes the Kepler planetary system just like the known solar system with the highest number of planets.
Kepler-90 is a sun-like star located 2,500 light-years away. Meanwhile, the eighth planet is named Kepler-90i. It is a hot and rocky planet and the smallest of eight planets in the Kepler-90 planetary system. Kepler-90i orbits very close to its star, in which a year passes in just 14 days. Its average surface temperatures are around 800 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NASA.
With these temperatures, life will not exist on this new planet. Andrew Vanderburg, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin and who helped identify the planet, said that Kepler-90i is not a place he wants to go visit. He further said that the Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of the known solar system. It has small planets inside and big planets outside. However, everything is scrunched much closer, according to Vanderburg.
With the discovery of an 8th planet orbiting another star 2,500 light years away, we now have another solar system that ties ours for number of worlds! Learn about the #Kepler90 system: https://t.co/AcSamwh07g pic.twitter.com/S50CPwjfOm
— NASA (@NASA) December 14, 2017
The discovery was found on the data gathered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Paul Hertz, the director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division in Washington, said that as they expected, there are exciting discoveries hiding in their archived Kepler data, waiting for the right tool or technology to unearth them. He further said that the finding shows that their data will be a treasure trove available to the innovative researcher for years to come.
Six days to winter solstice. Through machine learning, we now know of another 8 planet system matching our own! With Kepler-90h in the habitable zone, https://t.co/fP8ZFn3WZT pic.twitter.com/lclvPRsMMC
— Aeonian Biotech (@aeonian_biotech) December 15, 2017
More surprising about this discovery is that the new planet was identified through the aid of Google AI. Vanderburg collaborated with Christopher Shallue, the senior software engineer with Google’s research team Google AI.
— Google (@Google) December 14, 2017
Shallue applied the neural network to Kepler data. He said that he began Googling for finding exoplanets with huge data sets and found out about the Kepler mission and the huge data set available. He further said that machine learning really shines in situations where there is so much data that humans cannot search it for themselves, as noted by Science Daily.
NASA stated that this is just the beginning of a new way of planet hunting. It further stated that Kepler-90 is the first known star system besides the solar system with eight planets.
The researcher said that it won’t be the last. They will be searching for more other planets using the Kepler and other space telescopes.