Earth’s solar system is no longer the only large solar system yet discovered, as NASA has discovered an 8th planet orbiting a distant star with the Kepler Space Telescope and with the help of Google’s AI. Google’s AI scoured “weak” signals” in data which were previously recorded by the Kepler Space Telescope. The newly discovered planet resides in the solar system around the star called Kepler-90 which is roughly 2,500 light-years away from our planet. Scientists discovered the star in 2014.
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has been looking at the galactic sky in search of more exoplanets, and was launched in 2009. Scientists usually take and observe the strongest signals first, before going through the rest of the data looking for weaker signals. NASA has confirmed the existence of 2,525 exoplanets since the space telescope launched.
However, lately scientists are referring to artificial intelligence to help them in their research, as artificial intelligence has become widely used in astronomy. Scientists, including those who gather the Kepler data, use machine learning which helps them sort through the data easier, in order to check to make sure they haven’t missed anything important. Thanks to the help of artificial intelligence, scientists have discovered an 8th planet orbiting Kepler-90, naming it Kepler-90i.
“Just as we expected, there are exciting discoveries lurking in our archived Kepler data, waiting for the right tool or technology to unearth them,” Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division in Washington said in NASA’s press release. “This finding shows that our data will be a treasure trove available to innovative researchers for years to come.”
Still, even though the star Kepler-90 has the same number of orbiting planets as our solar system, the chances of this solar system containing planets that support extraterrestrial life is low, especially compared to the planets which orbit the star TRAPPIST-1. For instance, Kepler-90 is roughly 20% bigger than our Sun. Additionally, the eight planets that surround it have closer orbits compared to the planets in our solar system. The orbits of the planets surrounding the star Kepler-90 are so small, that seven out of those eight planet’s orbits could fit into the distance between the Earth and our Sun.
The 8th planet orbiting Kepler-90 was discovered after NASA allowed Google AI to train the machine learning algorithms on 15,000 signals which came from potential planets that had been saved in the Kepler database. The scientists took the system and let it work on different data from 670 stars known to contain more planets. The newly discovered Kepler-90i, which was announced on Thursday, is the first planet that NASA confirmed from the data from Google’s AI.