Found: An Eighth Planet Orbiting a Far-Flung Star

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Eighth planet found in faraway solar system, matching ours

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has been searching for exoplanets, or planets that exist outside our own solar system, since it launched in 2009.

"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".

The eighth planet, which was officially named Kepler-90i, was uncovered in the copious amounts of data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and is described as a "sizzling hot, rocky" planet orbiting its Sun-like star once every 14.4 days. Then, with the neural network having "learned" to detect the pattern of a transiting exoplanet, the researchers directed their model to search for weaker signals in 670 star systems that already had multiple known planets.

"As the application of neutral networks to Kepler data matures, who knows what might be discovered", said Jessie Dotson, a NASA project scientist for the Kepler space telescope.

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Vanderburg and Google AI software engineer Christopher Shallue taught a computer to review some 35,000 planetary signals that the Kepler telescope had collected and identify when the transmitted signals had dimmed. In the Kepler-80 system, they found a sixth planet.

There could well be systems out there with ten or more exoplanets orbiting their parent star.

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While machine learning has been used before in the search for planets beyond our solar system, it's believed to be the first time an artificial neural network like this has been used to find a new world. Some planets are more obvious than others, and the goal here was to turn the algorithm loose on digging through past measurements for weak signals that had been missed. Our solar system had nine planets until Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union, a decision that still stands. This indicates when a planet passes, or "transits", in front of a star.

In February, for instance, scientists announced an entire solar system of exoplanets relatively near our own.

However, none of the planets are expected to be hospitable to life.

Ahead of the big announcement: the agency has just announced that its astronaut Randy Bresnik has returned to Earth with two of his crewmates.

Nibiru the mythical planet - also known as Planet X - is said to strike once and for all this coming Saturday, with doomsayers claiming the massive planet will wipe out humanity by either smashing into Earth or making a catastrophic near-miss.

The discovery was made owing to the process of machine learning from Google, an approach in which computers are trained to "learn".

Like all machine learning systems, this one was fed measurements from previously identified exoplanets to work out what differentiates real signals from coincidental blips.

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