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How to watch the NASA Kepler announcement today

17 December 2017

And though the Kepler-90 system has as many planets as our solar system, it's much more compact, with the farthest out, Kepler-90h, only as far from its star as Earth is from the Sun.

The star system is called Kepler-90, and it's got quite a lot of planets.

NASA scientists have found a planetary system with as many planets as our own. "You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer", said Vanderburg, a NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow and astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin.

The Kepler space mission was a £446million ($600million) venture to explore the deep dark corners of space for signs of habitable worlds and extraterrestrial life.

All eight planets orbit closer to their host star than Earth is to the sun.

This image shows all the spacecraft involved in the search for alien planets (Photo: NASA)What is Kepler 90i like?

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The discovery has been made using Google's artificial intelligence technology, it said, and it will nearly certainly offer news about an exoplanet.

The discovery of the new planet, Kepler-90i, was made possible by machine learning.

"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, D.C., said in a statement.

NASA on Thursday revealed the discovery of blazing-hot exoplanet Kepler-90i thanks to the use of a Google neural network trained to identify planets from the NASA Kepler space telescope's data.

Kepler is a telescope dedicated to searching for planets around other stars. In the process, they found an overlooked planet that's now named Kepler-90i.

A subset of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning is about automating repetitive tasks, essentially training a computer to recognize patterns and categorize data.

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The researchers will continue to refine the neural network and plan to use it to study the full set of Kepler data, which includes information collected from over 150,000 stars.

Kepler-90 is slightly larger, hotter and has more mass than the sun, but otherwise resembles our own star in many ways. That's the downside of the transiting method; even if multiple planets are orbiting a star that the telescope is pointed at, it will only see them if the the planets pass directly in front of the star - it's all about line-of-sight.

"It's like sifting through rocks to find jewels", Vanderburg said of the results, which presented a number of false positives, as well as "potentially more real planets".

As Jessie Dotson, a NASA astrophysicist on the K2 mission, said, "I'm on the edge of my seat", to see what that analysis yields. A research paper on the findings will be published by the Astronomical Journal.

Once they established that their program could accurately pick out exoplanets, they ran it on 670 stars that were known to have at least two exoplanets, in the hopes that it could find more that had been previously missed.

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How to watch the NASA Kepler announcement today