Skip to comments.A New Breed of Planet Hunters: Amateur scientists find niche in locating new planets
Posted on 06/20/2012 4:29:59 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Over the past decade, scientists have found evidence of hundreds of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. A group of volunteers has also joined the search, and they have found several additional planets that initially fell through the cracks.
Exoplanets can be detected through a variety of ways, and scientists have increasingly looked for small, regularly repeating dips in light from a star-- a sign of planets passing in front of, or transiting, their home star. This same phenomenon happened in our own solar system earlier this month when Earth-based viewers saw Venus transit the sun for the last time this century.
But the sheer number of exoplanets means there's plenty of transits to track; consequently, scientists have acquired huge amounts of data to process. That's partly why a research team at Yale University has recruited over 150,000 volunteers to help sort through publicly released data from the Kepler space telescope.
Called Planet Hunters, the project has led to the discovery of several new planets while also confirming many findings made by Kepler scientists. Earlier this year, project leaders unveiled two new exoplanet candidates that NASA's computer data crunching failed to detect.
Most recently, 24,000 of the volunteers helped find seven more exoplanets that computer algorithms initially missed. Although updated data-processing algorithms detected these planets, scientists working to refine the algorithms have found the citizen volunteers' contributions invaluable.
(Excerpt) Read more at physicscentral.com ...
The field of view for the Kepler spacecraft, which is collecting data for the search for exoplanets.Image Credit: Carter Roberts
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An “extra, extra” ping to the APoD list members.
imagine the number we would find if we actually point Kepler to somewhere other than Cygnus.
All of this just in that small corner!
It’s just not the same without Pluto.
Since the beginning of time scientists have NOT FOUND ANY PLANETS to exist beyond the bounds of our own solar system. Fixed it.
This planet search is all fine, but so far all the planets I have read about circumnavigate their sun in about 18 to 36 hours. This means the planets are much too close to their suns to sustain life. When they find an earth type planet far enough to support life, I’ll be a bit more interested.
You mean life as you understand it here on earth?
It's interesting, at nuclear test sites, living microorganisms have been found just under the surface at ground zero, miles under water, under layers of ice hundreds of feet deep, etc.
I would think being on a planet, distant from a star, life of some form could easily exist.
True, life has been found in far subzero temps and in water near boiling, but the planets they are finding have surface temps in the hundreds of degrees meaning that they have no water. No water means no life.
BTW, one of the reasons why the larger planets are being discovered first, is because of their size and the fact most are close to the star they are orbiting. Our current instruments/technology pick them up relatively easily, as opposed to a smaller planet orbiting at a much greater distance.
My bet as technology advances in this field, the smaller, planets orbiting these stars at greater distances will be discovered and cataloged.
In fact several hundred planets smaller than Neptune have already been found.
:’) Demoting Pluto was goofy.
The closer to the star, the easier the planets are to spot. Multi-planet systems (such as 55 Cancri) have made excellent targets for study, because planets pull on each other as well.
No, you’ve merely exhibited your own ignorance.
It is exciting. The number of known extrasolar planets is pushing 800 now, not bad, and the first one wasn’t confirmed until twenty years ago. As technology improves and the buildout continues, it’s not unlikely that the number will grow tenfold in perhaps five years. Whereas it’s far more important to identify all the space debris that crosses Earth’s orbit, that kind of study can be done with radioastronomy on a low budget, and (as is necessary) distributed across all landmasses.
That’s for us and life on this planet. Who’s to say water isn’t poison for some extraterrestrial species?
Are you a member of the Flat Earth Society?
I see the pun. :)
You’ve read to many scifi novels.
I haven’t read enough.