Eight Planets Found Orbiting Distant Star, NASA Says

Eight Planets Found Orbiting Distant Star, NASA Says

Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star, with the recent discovery of an eighth planet circling Kepler-90, a Sun-like star 2,545 light years from Earth.

Leave it to Google to make Kepler even better.

'The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system.

NASA has discovered an eighth planet around a distant star, which means we're no longer the largest solar system we know of.

Kepler-90i doesn't fall inside the habitable zone of the Kepler solar system.

"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".

Like Earth, this new planet, Keplar-90i, is the third rock from its sun.

The exciting discovery was made by NASA's Kepler telescope, which studies some 15,000 stars every minute.

It did so by combing through data sent down by the Kepler space telescope, which was launched into space by Nasa in 2009.

Researchers also announced that they had uncovered a sixth planet in the Kepler-80 system, Kepler-80g, which is similar in size to Earth.

NASA scientists had known about seven planets orbiting Kepler-90.

"This is just the beginning of a new way of planet hunting", the release said on Thursday. Whether it is human eyes or compute algorithms, the key to finding alien worlds with Kepler is spotting the signal for a "transit" - the passage of an alien world across the face of its star, from our perspective here, which causes the light from the star to temporarily dim.

They did it by using a computer that "learned" to find planets in data from NASA's Kepler space telescope. During its four-year original mission, the spacecraft scanned 150,000 stars continuously, searching for the tiny brightness dips caused by planets crossing the stars' faces. Chris Shallue, a senior software engineer at Google, teamed up with Andrew Vanderburg, a NASA astrophysicist now at the University of Texas at Austin, to teach a computer how to find signs of exoplanet existence that researchers using Kepler previously missed.

But it has allowed scientists to reveal that planets are orbiting stars across the universe. It was that process that allowed the Google AI - which hasn't yet been named - to spot the two planets deep in space.

"We searched for new planets around stars already known to host transiting planets, so we knew the Kepler telescope could detect them", he said.

"These results demonstrate the enduring value of Kepler's mission", Jessie Dotson, Kepler's project scientist, said in the statement.

Their findings will be published in The Astronomical Journal.

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