Published On: Sat, Jan 13th, 2018

Amateur Astronomers Discover ‘Unusual’ Five-Planet System Using Zooniverse And Kepler Data

Artist's concept of the K2-138 planetary system, discovered by amateur astronomers via the Exoplanet Explorers project.

For the first time ever, citizen scientists have identified a multi-planet system found entirely through crowdsourcing. The newfound planetary system, made up of five confirmed exoplanets and possibly a sixth one, is not only a first in terms of how it was discovered, but also due to a rare feature described as “unique among exoplanetary neighborhoods.”

The five-planet solar system was detected last year by volunteers enlisted in the Exoplanet Explorers project, an online initiative for citizen scientists hosted on Zooniverse, and which uses fresh data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

The amateur astronomers combed through heaps of 2017 Kepler data, collected during its K2 mission and uploaded on the Zooniverse platform. In their search for possible planet candidates, more than 10,000 volunteers worldwide sifted through Kepler observation of nearly 100,000 stars to classify their blinking patterns, and originally discovered four of the system’s five planets — a remarkable find that took place just 48 hours after the project was launched in early April, 2017.

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Amateur Astronomers Discover ‘Unusual’ Five-Planet System Using Zooniverse And Kepler Data

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