November 18, 2018

Citizen scientists comb through data from distant stars, discover five planets

13 January 2018, 03:32 | Edward Lowe

Caltech K2-138

Caltech           K2-138

Once it was enough to find planets outside our Solar System, but with thousands of exoplanets confirmed, it's now possible to learn something about how they are organized.

"If we find one potentially rocky exoplanet that's too hot to be habitable, it might be worthwhile to search for additional planets in that system, because there might be a similarly sized planet in the habitable zone waiting to be discovered". There's no way water would exist on the surface, as portrayed here. Each planet comes incredibly close to its star, streaking around in just 13 days at most - a whirlwind of an orbit compared with Earth's 365-day year, they said. The central star is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun.

The alien worlds, all orbiting a Sun-like star located within the constellation Aquarius, are considered super- Earths, sizing in at two to three times larger than our own planet, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S. said.

These planets are mostly located between 1,000 and 4,000 light-years away from Earth. Exoplanets that have been classified as super-Earths are two-three times larger in size than Earth. Due to their close proximity to the star, these planets are nearly certainly uninhabitable.

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First, exoplanets of the same size tended to group together, much in the same way that planets in the Solar System do. It shows us yet another way that star systems can be configured.

Citizen scientists have discovered five tightly packed planets outside our solar system, almost 620 light years from Earth, using data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. Astronomers, whether they be professionals or amateurs, look at these measurements in hopes of finding dips in a star's luminosity.

In April 2017, the Exoplanet Explorers project was featured on the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) program Stargazing Live.

At least 10 users would have to look at a potential signal, and 90 per cent of these users would have to vote "yes", for researchers to consider the signal for further analysis.

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"What's exciting is that we found this unusual system with the help of the general public". "But those can take a while to validate, to make sure that it really is a real planet and not a false alarm".

"That's a really tantalising clue that we may be missing more planets in this system". When the terrestrial planets were still forming, Jupiter and Saturn scattered the protoplanets and increased the number of collisions among them. A fifth planet was also discovered on the same chain, with hints of a sixth as well.

Sorting through the upvoted, crowdsourced data, Christiansen eventually found a star with four planets orbiting it. Christainsen and the Expoplanet Explorers had stumbled upon the first system of exo-planets that was discovered entirely by crowdsourcing.

Citizen scientists have struck again. We need to find even more planets - and hopefully next time the planets will be a bit more. hospitable.

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A study describing the system has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

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