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ADMIN posted a blog entry in Geo News BlogThis NASA FILE photo shows an artist's rendition of the Kepler space telescope. MIAMI: A solar system with as many planets as our own has been discovered with the help of NASA?s Kepler space telescope and artificial intelligence, the US space agency said Thursday. "Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star," NASA said in a statement. However, none of the planets are expected to be hospitable to life. The eight-planet system -- the largest known outside of ours -- orbits a star called Kepler 90 some 2,545 light-years away. "The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system," said Andrew Vanderburg, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin. "You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer." The newly identified planet, Kepler-90i, is a rocky planet like Earth, but orbits its star once every 14.4 days, meaning a full year there is the same as two weeks on Earth. "Kepler-90i is not a place I?d like to go visit, though," said Vanderburg. "Its surface is likely far too hot." NASA calculated its average temperature at about 800 degrees Fahrenheit (426 Celsius) -- as hot as Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. Artificial intelligence Scientists found it by using machine learning from Google. The process involved teaching a computer to scan a trove of 35,000 possible planetary signals collected from NASA?s Kepler space telescope for search for signs of planetary transits. Transits are the dimming of light when planets pass in front of a star. The Kepler space telescope launched in 2009, and has scanned some 150,000 stars. Astronomers have already confirmed the existence of some 2,500 far-away worlds using Kepler data. "I became interested in applying neural networks to astronomy when I learned that the Kepler mission had collected so much data that it was impossible for scientists to examine it all manually," said Christopher Shallue, a senior software engineer with Google?s research team. "Instead scientists selected the strongest signals, which are the most likely to be actual planets, to receive the most attention." Shallue likened this process to "looking for a needle in a haystack." "Machine learning really shines when there is too much data for humans to examine for themselves." More planets are expected to be found, because researchers plan to apply their neural network to Kepler?s full set of more than 150,000 stars. "There is a lot of unexplored real estate in the Kepler 90 system," said Vanderburg. "It would almost be surprising to me if there weren?t any more planets in around that star." One day, artificial intelligence might even be used to search specifically for more Earth-like planets, which have proven difficult to pin down. "For the first time since our solar system planets were discovered thousands of years ago, we know for sure that the solar system is not the sole record holder for the most planets, and we have just scratched the surface," Vanderburg added. "Maybe there are systems out there with so many planets that they make our eight-planet solar system seem ordinary." The findings are published in The Astronomical Journal.
ADMIN posted a blog entry in FDF Online NewsThe one question that has haunted us for a long time is if we really are alone in this universe. Fiction and films have explored the possibility long enough to envision a futuristic world. There have been cases of UFO sightings in part of the world as early as the 8th century. An unidentified object was spotted in Kolkata in the year 2007 and was captured on camera. There have been enough hints for us to believe alien life exists somewhere in the universe. But looks like now we’d finally get evidence of life outside Earth. © Warner Bros Pictures NASA just announced the discovery of 219 possible exoplanets (planets orbiting a star other than the sun) in the Milky Way and out of these, 10 are possibly habitable Earth-like worlds. These 10 planets lie in their star’s ‘habitable zone’ or the ‘Goldilocks region’ where life forms can exist and water can remain in a liquid form. The region is the perfect distance from the star and is neither too hot nor too cold. © Reuters The exoplanets have been discovered as part of the Kepler mission. The Kepler space telescope was launched into space in 2009 and was designed to detect possibly habitable planets in our galaxy and observes just a small portion of the Milky Way. So far, a whopping 4034 possible exoplanets have been discovered by the telescope and out of these, over 50 were discovered to be in the habitable zone. NASA issued a statement that read: “There are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. Of which, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified.” © Reuters Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist and lead author of the catalog study said, “This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy’s most compelling questions – how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?” The detection of habitable worlds is a huge step towards discovering life beyond our world. In our never-ending galaxy that has 200-400 billion stars and over 100 billion planets, it’s just a matter of chance before other life forms are discovered. We just have to wait and watch and see humankind travelling to other worlds to contact aliens living on faraway planets. H/t – NASA
waqas dar posted a blog entry in Geo News BlogAstronomers on Monday added 219 candidates to the growing list of planets beyond the solar system, 10 of which may be about the same size and temperature as Earth, boosting the chances for life. Scientists found the planet candidates in a final batch of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope observations of 200,000 sample stars in the constellation Cygnus. The candidates include 10 newly discovered rocky worlds that are properly distanced from their parent stars for water, if it exists, to pool on their surfaces. Scientists believe liquid water is a key ingredient for life. ?An important question for us is, ?Are we alone?'" Kepler program scientist Mario Perez said in a conference call with reporters. ?Maybe Kepler today is telling us indirectly ... that we are not alone.? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched the Kepler telescope in 2009 to learn if Earth-like planets are common or rare. With the final analysis of Kepler data in hand, scientists said they will now work on answering that question, a key step in assessing the chance that life exists beyond Earth. During a four-year mission, Kepler found 2,335 confirmed planets and another 1,699 candidates, bringing its tally to 4,034. That number includes about 50 worlds that may be about the same size and temperature as Earth. Including other telescope surveys, scientists have confirmed the existence of nearly 3,500 planets beyond the solar system. Kepler?s data also provided a new way to assess whether a planet has a solid surface, like Earth, or is made mostly of gas, like Neptune. The distinction will help scientists home in on potential Earth-like planets and better the odds for finding life. The Kepler team found that planets which are about 1.75 times the size of Earth and smaller tend to be rocky, while those two- to 3.5 times the size of Earth become gas-shrouded worlds like Neptune. ?It?s like finding what we thought was a single species of animal is really two different things,? said Benjamin Fulton, a graduate student in astronomy who analysed the Kepler data. So far, these planets, which scientists refer to as ?super-Earths? and ?mini-Neptunes,? have not been found in Earth?s solar system, though scientists are on the hunt for a potential ninth planet far beyond Pluto. ?It is interesting that we don?t have what appears to be the most common type of planet in the galaxy,? Fulton said.