by Graham Pierrepoint
The search for both intelligent life and answers to our biggest questions about the universe continues on a constant basis – thanks to the likes of NASA and SpaceX, exploration and research into the universe around us has never quite ceased. 2017 has been a fantastic year for pioneering discoveries and research, and it seems that even in the dying few days of the year, there are still some fascinating discoveries lining up around us. A discovery this week seems to have confirmed that a second solar system that may be bigger than our own exists out there in the deep black – and that AI has a hand in helping to discover it.
Kepler-90i is the latest planet to have been discovered, with scientists excited to confirm that its orbit of a star suggests we may no longer have the largest planet grouping in our galaxy – and it’s partly in thanks to a computer model developed by Andrew Vanderburg and Christopher Shallue. The automated model has been developed to help identify and analyze readings set up by the Kepler Space Telescope. This network is adept at looking for various changes in the behavior and make-up of stars – particularly in terms of brightness – and recent changes in one particular star suggested that there may be a planet passing in front.
Eighth Planet Found In Faraway Solar System, Matching Ours ▶
Kepler-90i takes just over two weeks to orbit its star – and it’s particularly tiny – and it’s not just the one planet that’s been picked up by the duo’s pioneering system, with another body named Kepler-80g having been discovered in a separate collection. Kepler-90i belongs to the Kepler-90 system, naturally, and this discovery seems have tipped the balance in favor of the grouping becoming the largest solar neighborhood that the Milky Way has to offer. It’s inspiring news for astronomers and researchers everywhere – seemingly topping off a year that has been chock-full of great discoveries and large steps being made in the field of space-combing.
While some suggestions being made this week point to there perhaps being intelligent life out there in the outer reaches, this is yet to be fully confirmed – of course. This story, however, is particularly interesting – as it highlights that computers and programs may well be able to do much of the donkey work for us in future as far as space research is confirmed – let’s just wait and see!