The Kepler-90 system is set up like our solar system, with the small planets located close to their star and the big planets farther away.
"Machine learning really shines in situations where there is so much data that humans can't search it for themselves", said Christopher Shallue, a senior software engineer with Google's research team who thought of using artificial intelligence to find distant planets. The finding ties Kepler-90's solar system with our own for most planets.
NASA Found 8th Planets Our Orbiting Kepler-90
"The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system". But the similarities with our home planet probably end there: Kepler-90i completes one orbit every 14.4 Earth days and is therefore probably much too hot to host life.
And before you start packing your bags for Kepler-90i, NASA cautions that other planetary systems "hold more promise for life" than the Kepler-90 star system.
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The machine learning technique was also used to find a new Earth-sized planet, called Kepler 80g, around a different star.
This suggests that there may be hidden worlds and solar systems in the data we have already collected but which we have not noticed because there are so many signals to be tracked.
It's the largest number of worlds ever discovered in a planetary system outside our own.
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Google used machine learning to analyse pre-existing data from Kepler.
"This finding shows that our data will be a treasure trove available to innovative researchers for years to come", Hertz said. First off, humans did the work of verifying the presence of planets based on data that the algorithm surfaced.
The researchers first trained the neural network to identify transiting exoplanets using a set of 15,000 previously-vetted signals from the Kepler exoplanet catalogue.
What is meant by machine learning?That telescope looks out at the stars and watches for how bright they are - if they temporarily dim, then it may be a sign that a planet is passing in front of it, and by watching the patterns in the dimming astronomers can work out great detail about far distant planets. "You have little planets inside and enormous planets outside, however everything is scrunched in substantially nearer", Vanderburg said.
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Since 2009, Kepler has discovered thousands of exoplanets ranging between Earth-size and Neptune-size (four times the size of Earth). Once those improvements are in place, they also plan to search all 150,000 or so stars in the Kepler data set to hunt for planets that are similar to Earth.