A new discovery has been made by NASA’s Kepler space telescope on an eighth planet in a distant star system called Kepler 90. The new discovery is very significant because it marks the first time a faraway star has been found to have the same number of planets as our sun orbiting it.
Google’s AI software greatly helped in the discovery after it was deployed in analyzing data from Kepler. This will raise hopes that life could exist elsewhere in the universe. The new planet Kepler 90i, means the Kepler-90 planets have a similar configuration to our solar system.
Google’s AI system was used by the satellite to search for the stars for distant worlds using Google's AI system, which used machine learning to 'find' planets in the Kepler data with up to 96 percent accuracy. This is made possible through the deployment of neural networks, which can be trained on huge amounts of data to determine the difference between different objects with great accuracy.
AI can spot the difference between patterns associated with planets, and other types of patterns in the cosmos that could be false positives.
'After showing our model 15,000 signals, the neural network learned how to distinguish patterns from actual planets from patterns that are caused by other objects,' explained Christopher Shallue, senior software engineer at Google AI in Mountain View, California.
'We used our model to identify two new planets from a set of 670 stars,' Shallue explained.
'One of these two planets is called Kepler 80g.
'The planet we are focusing on today is called Kepler 90i, which is the eighth planet in its star system.'
'This is a really exciting discovery, and we consider it to be a success,' in the use of neural networks in the search for distant worlds, the expert explained.
A renowned astronomer, Andrew Vanderburg said the new planet is 'not a place you'd like to visit.' The NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas, Austin said:
'It is probably rocky, and doesn’t have a thick atmosphere'. And, temperatures at the surface are 'scorching.'
Vanderburg revealed that the average surface temperature is likely around 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
The star system sits roughly 2500 light-years away, and of the new planets found, Kepler 90i is the 'smallest of the bunch.'
Scientists revealed that the new planet orbits its star once every 14.4 days. All of the planets in this system ‘tightly’ orbit their star, which is thought to be cooler than our own sun.
Before the latest AI-guided results, 'Kepler 90 was tied with Trappist-1, with 7 planets each,' says Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.
'But now, it ties with our own system with the most known number of planets' around a star.
It's not just a planet candidate; according to NASA, the latest exoplanet has been confirmed to be 'almost certainly,' an exoplanet, with 1 in 10,000 false positive probability.
The Kepler mission has spotted thousands of exoplanets since 2014, with 30 planets less than twice the size of Earth now known to orbit within the habitable zones of their stars.