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Science: NASA uses Google AI to discover eighth planet in distant solar system

Kepler solar system picture (picture alliance/dpa/AP Photo/NASA/W. Stenzel)
US Space Agency NASA announced on Thursday that applying artificial intelligence to Kepler telescope star data uncovered a new planet in a distant solar system, bringing the system's total planet count to eight and making it the largest known such system outside of our own.
"Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star," NASA said in a statement. Previously, earth's solar system had the largest known number of planets.
The newly discovered planet, which has been named Kepler-90i, circles the Kepler-90 star, which is some 2,545 light-years away from Earth. One light-year equals about 9.5 trillion kilometers (5.8 trillion miles.) The rocky planet is much close to the Kepler-90 star than earth is to our sun and orbits it once every 14.4 days.
"The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system," said Andrew Vanderburg, an astronomic researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who worked on the discovery.
"You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer."
NASA estimated the planet's surface temperature to be around 426 degrees Celsius (800 Fahrenheit) and said it likely was inhospitable to life.
Google AI teams up with NASA
Kepler-90i was discovered by training a computer to scan massive amounts of star data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope, which has scanned more than 150,000 stars since its launch in 2009.
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. This indicates when a planet passes, or "transits," in front of a star. The computer then found weak transit signals that had previously been missed and that pointed to the existence of the eighth planet, Kepler-90i.
Source: DW

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