AI goes to space! New planet discovered outside solar system

AI is now helping in finding new planets outside our solar system! Here is how.

| Updated on: May 20 2023, 23:08 IST
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NASA Eagle Nebula
1/5 The mesmerizing Eagle Nebula (May 15) - This is a snapshot of M16, also known as the Eagle Nebula which spans about 20 light-years across. The nebula, discovered in 1745 by the Swiss astronomer Jean-Philippe Loys de Chéseaux, is located 7,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Serpens, according to NASA. (NASA/Gianni Lacroce)
2/5 Sun’s Corona visible during solar eclipse (May 16) - Sun’s Corona was shot during a total solar eclipse. Temperatures in the Sun’s Corona can reach up to 2 million degrees and it is also the region where solar wind originates, according to NASA. While the hottest part of the Sun is its core, one of its most puzzling features is its Corona which extends more than 1 million kilometers from its surface. (NASA/Reinhold Wittich)
3/5 Sun’s Dark Sunspots (May 17) - Sunspots on the surface of the Sun in the active region AR 3297 were captured in this image. According to NASA, Sunspots are dark areas on the solar surface that contain strong magnetic fields that are constantly shifting and can form and dissipate over periods of days or weeks. They occur when strong magnetic fields emerge through the solar surface and allow the area to cool slightly. (NASA/Mark Johnston)
WR134 Ring Nebula
4/5 Breathtaking WR134 Ring Nebula (May 18) -  It is a breathtaking snapshot of the WR134 Ring Nebula, located about 6000 light-years from Earth towards the constellation Cygnus. At the center of the Nebula is the Wolf Rayet star WR 134 named after French astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet. (NASA/Craig Stocks)
NASA M63 Curly Spiral Galaxy
5/5 Snapshot of M63 Curly Spiral Galaxy (May 19) - The celestial object captured in this image is the M63 Curly Spiral Galaxy which is located about 30 million light-years away towards the constellation Canes Venatici. Also known as NGC 5055, this spiral galaxy spans almost 100,000 light-years. Spiral Galaxies like M63 are disks of stars, gas, and dust that have bright bulges in their centers made up primarily of older and dimmer stars. (NASA/Sophie Paulin/Jens Unger/Jakob Sahner)
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A new exoplanet has been found with the help of AI. (Representative Image) (NASA)

AI is the biggest buzzword these days courtesy ChatGPT. And guess what? AI is now helping scientists to discover planets out there in space! A recent study conducted by a research team from the University of Georgia confirmed the evidence of a new planet outside our solar system which has been identified by machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence. This breakthrough marks an initial milestone in bringing AI into practice to discover unknown exoplanets.

The study says that an exoplanet can be determined just by looking in protoplanetary disks, the gas around newly formed stars. The research team confirmed the planet using traditional techniques, however, the AI model helped to run simulations and showed exactly where the planet might be. How does it work?

Jason Terry, the lead author of the study, suggests that the models indicated the potential presence of a planet, as evidenced by multiple images that prominently emphasized a specific area in the disk. This region had some characteristic signs of a planet—a remarkable variation in the gas velocity surrounding it.

Significance of AI in exoplanet discoveries

The recent discovery of an exoplanet with the help of AI suggests that machine learning has the power to dig deeper into the vast realm of outer space exploration. In this case, the model successfully identified a signal in data that had already been analyzed. That means, it can uncover something that had previously gone undetected.

"This demonstrates that our models — and machine learning in general — have the ability to quickly and accurately identify important information that people can miss," Terry said. You will be surprised to know that the whole analyses took almost an hour to analyze the entire catalog and find the evidence of an exoplanet at a specific spot, the author of the paper added.

How do traditional methods work to identify exoplanets?

For decades, several famous telescopes and satellites such as Kepler Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, CoRoT satellite, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and others have helped to identify exoplanets.

Some of these techniques include Radial velocity analyses that measure Doppler shift in the host star, while Gravitational Microlensing helps when massive objects cause a distortion in the light's path, leading to a gravitational lensing effect that affects the brightness of the star.

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First Published Date: 20 May, 23:08 IST