AI Aids in Discovering Two New Planets in Milky Way


Artificial intelligence can now help astronomers in discovery and study of two new planets in the Milky Way / Photo by: O12 via Pixabay


Artificial intelligence technology helped researchers from the University of Texas discover two new planets that may just exist in the Milky Way galaxy, proving that AI is a promising tool in research.

In collaboration with Google, the research team utilized AI tech to investigate the possible existence of other astronomical objects like a meteor, an asteroid, or even a new planet. Along with the help of the Kepler space telescope in the extended Kepler mission—called the K2—the researchers discovered the two new planets that would've been difficult to spot without the aid of AI.

Anne Dattilo, the team's study leader, developed an algorithm that could sift through the data gathered by the Kepler telescope. The Science Time reports that this algorithm can determine possible information that traditional research methods may have overlooked.

Using the Kepler data and AI tech, the researchers were able to discover a planet around the Kepler Star. This system was already known to host seven other planets, and the discovery of another one helps make that system to host as many planets like the Earth's solar system.

"This research project required a different kind of algorithm to bring about new data. If traditional methods were still used, it would have been impossible to uncover a planet or two new ones at that," Dattilo said.

In explaining why AI is used to make more discoveries about space, NASA Sagan fellow and one of the study's researchers Austin Andrew Vanderberg said AI helps in developing a uniformed search for all the data—a feature that traditional research methods can't do.

"Because data can sometimes be too noisy, it would be difficult to identify a planet as big as the Earth even if it were just near a star," he explained.

Vanderberg further added that there could still be a lot of undiscovered worlds out there, and if astronomers continue to stick with traditional research methods, "we might end up not discovering anything new anymore."