Another 8-planet solar system? 7 things about Kepler’s ‘sizzling’ discovery

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 9:54 PM

The Kepler spacecraft, operating as the K2 mission, will spend three years observing a ribbon of the sky (blue line) as it orbits the sun. Roughly every 80 days, the spacecraft will pan to a new field of view (blue stamp) aligned with the plane of the solar system.
NASA Ames/W. Stenzel
The Kepler spacecraft, operating as the K2 mission, will spend three years observing a ribbon of the sky (blue line) as it orbits the sun. Roughly every 80 days, the spacecraft will pan to a new field of view (blue stamp) aligned with the plane of the solar system.(NASA Ames/W. Stenzel)

Looks like our solar system isn’t the only one out there with eight planets circling around a single star.

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NASA scientists, along with Google engineers, used artificial intelligence to discover a new, scorching hot planet in the Kepler-90 solar system, bringing the total number of planets circling the Sun-like star to eight, the agency announced Thursday.

>> Related: Breathtaking NASA time-lapse shows how much Earth has changed over 20 years

Scientists used Google machine learning to teach computers how to identify planets in the light readings recorded by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

Here’s what you should know about the new discovery, according to Thursday’s live teleconference:

What exactly is the Kepler mission?

The Kepler mission, NASA Discovery’s tenth mission, first launched in March 2009 with a goal to survey the Milky Way and hunt for Earth-size and smaller planets near the galaxy or “habitable” regions of planets’ parent stars.

In 2014, the Kepler space telescope began a new extended mission called K2, which continues the hunt for planets outside our solar system along with its other cosmic tasks.

>> Related: Follow NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions 

According to Space.com, “Kepler spots alien worlds by noticing the tiny brightness dips they cause when they cross the face of their host star from the spacecraft's perspective.”

Since 2009, Kepler has discovered thousands of exoplanets ranging between Earth-size and Neptune-size (four times the size of Earth).

As of Dec. 14, Kepler has confirmed 2,341 exoplanets.

How did NASA find the planet?

Researchers Christopher Shallue (Google AI software engineer) and Andrew Vanderburg (NASA astronomer) were inspired by the way neurons in the human brain connect and adapted the “neural network” concept to machine learning.

They taught computers how to identify planets in the light readings recorded by the Kepler telescope by first training them to search for the weaker signals in 670 star systems that already had multiple planets.

This image zooms into a small portion of Kepler's full field of view - an expansive, 100-square-degree patch of sky in our Milky Way galaxy. An eight-billion-year-old cluster of stars 13,000 light-years from Earth, called NGC 6791, can be seen in the image.(NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

>> Related: Amazing NASA photos through the years 

“Their assumption was that multiple-planet systems would be the best places to look for more exoplanets,” researchers wrote in the press release.

Using this concept, the network “found weak transit signals from a previously-missed eighth planet orbiting Kepler-90, in the constellation Draco.”

Their findings will be published in The Astronomical Journal.

Would humans have found the planet without machine learning?

Without machine learning, it would have taken humans much longer to scan the recorded signals from planets beyond our solar system (exoplanets), Shallue said. Kepler’s four-year dataset consists of 35,000 possible planetary signals. 

>> Related: 15,000 scientists warn it will soon be 'too late' to save Earth

Additionally, people are likely to miss the weaker signals that machine learning was able to identify.

Won’t this form of automation put astronomers out of work?

"This will absolutely work alongside astronomers," Jessie Dotson, Kepler’s project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, said in a press briefing. "You're never going to take that piece out."

Researchers hope astronomers will use this form of automation via machine learning as a tool to help astronomers make more of an impact, increase their productivity and inspire more people become astronomers.

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Thief fails three-point-turn, flees after he can’t get truck out of driveway

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 10:40 PM

A thief failed to steal a truck when he could not complete a three-point turn. (Photo: Screengrab via Bensalem Police/YouTube)
A thief failed to steal a truck when he could not complete a three-point turn. (Photo: Screengrab via Bensalem Police/YouTube)

A thief failed to steal a truck because he could not complete a three-point turn to get around another vehicle in a driveway and then fled the scene, surveillance video shows

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Video posted by the Bensalem Police Department shows a man trying to steal the unlocked truck early Wednesday morning. 

The man, who appears to be in his 20s, tries unsuccessfully to reverse, nearly hitting another vehicle parked in the driveway multiple times. Eventually, he gives up and flees the scene.

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WATCH: 'Permit Patty' appears to call police on girl selling bottled water in viral video

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

File photo of bottled water. A white woman who appeared to call the police on a biracial San Francisco girl selling bottled water to raise money for a Disneyland trip has gone viral, sparking the hashtag #PermitPatty.
denvit / Pixabay.com
File photo of bottled water. A white woman who appeared to call the police on a biracial San Francisco girl selling bottled water to raise money for a Disneyland trip has gone viral, sparking the hashtag #PermitPatty.(denvit / Pixabay.com)

A white woman who appeared to call the police on a biracial girl selling bottled water to raise money for a Disneyland trip has gone viral, sparking the hashtag #PermitPatty.

>> Huge cookout held at Oakland park where cops called on black family's barbecue

According to USA Today, the girl's mother, Erin Austin, captured the alleged phone call on video, which has been viewed millions of times since it was posted Saturday. She said the incident occurred outside her apartment near AT&T Stadium in San Francisco.

"This woman don't want to let a little girl sell some water," Austin says in the 15-second clip, focusing the camera on a woman holding a phone. "She's calling the police on a 8-year-old little girl."

As the woman, identified by HuffPost as Alison Ettel, crouches behind a concrete wall, Austin adds: "You can hide all you want; the whole world's gonna see you, boo."

"And illegally selling water without a permit? Yeah," Ettel says, pointing to her phone.

"On my property," Austin interjects.

"It's not your property," Ettel replies.

>> Watch the video here

Austin and the girl's cousin, Raje Leeshared the footage with the hashtag #PermitPatty, USA Today reported.

"Make this [expletive] go viral like #bbqbecky," Austin captioned the video, referring to the hashtag used after a different woman was recorded calling the police on a black family for using a charcoal grill at an Oakland park. "She's #permitpatty."

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The posts sparked a debate about whether Ettel's actions were racist.

"For all of you saying it's not about race why didn't she stop to harass the white [men] that [were] selling tickets and teeshirts but thought calling the police on a child was okay?" Lee tweeted. "Don't answer. Just ask yourself that."

>> See the tweet here

"I didn't think in San Francisco my biracial child would have to go through something like this," Austin told KNTV.

Ettel told HuffPost that race had nothing to do with it, adding that she didn't really call the police. 

"They were screaming about what they were selling," Ettel said, claiming she had no problem with the girl, only Austin. "It was literally nonstop."

She added: "I completely regret that I handled that so poorly. It was completely stress-related, and I should have never confronted her."

The drama seemed to have a happy ending for Austin's daughter, who received four free tickets to Disneyland from a Twitter user who saw the video, Lee tweeted.

>> See the tweet here

Read more here or here.

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5 arrested for murder of New York teen who was hacked to death with machete

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 8:19 PM

Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was attacked and brutally murdered Wednesday. (Photo: NYPD)
Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was attacked and brutally murdered Wednesday. (Photo: NYPD)

Police arrested five people Sunday in connection with a brutal machete attack on a teen outside a Bronx bodega earlier in the week. 

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Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, was pulled out of the Cruz and Chiky grocery Wednesday by members of the Dominican gang Trinitarios, who beat him, hacked him with a machete and left him to die on the sidewalk outside the store in what officials believe was a case of mistaken identity, according to the New York Post

Gang members wrongly believed Guzman-Feliz was in a revenge sex video posted online that featured a relative of one of the attackers, according to the Post

A leader of the gang later apologized on Facebook for the mistake, according to WPIX

The teen’s mother said her son was a good boy who had never been in a gang. He was a member of the NYPD Explorers Program for Youth and dreamed of one day becoming a detective, Leandra Feliz told the Post

“Since he was 5 years old, he told me, ‘Mommy, I want to be a police,’” she said. 

The identities of the suspects have not yet been released.

GoFundMe account, set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses and other costs has raised more than $125,000 as of Sunday evening.

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4 children killed in violent police standoff laid to rest in Florida

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 8:31 PM

The children killed in an Orlando police standoff with their mother's boyfriend are from top left (clockwise) Lillia Pluth, Irayan Pluth, Dove Lindsey and Aidan Lindsey. The children were laid to rest Saturday in Orlando.
The children killed in an Orlando police standoff with their mother's boyfriend are from top left (clockwise) Lillia Pluth, Irayan Pluth, Dove Lindsey and Aidan Lindsey. The children were laid to rest Saturday in Orlando.

Funeral services for four Orlando children killed during a 21-hour police standoff  with their mother’s boyfriend were held Saturday. 

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The services, which were open to the public, took place at St. James Catholic Cathedral in Orlando, according to an attorney representing the family.

The funeral marked a difficult day for the family of Dove Lindsey, 1, Aiden Lindsey, 6, Lillia Pluth, 10, and Irayan Pluth, 12.

The day also proved too emotional for the children's mother, Ciara Lopez. 

"I remain stuck in that one night, that one night where everything changed, standing outside that apartment, waiting for different news," she said in a statement. 

Detectives believe Gary Lindsey, 35, shot the children either shortly before or after police officers came to the door of his apartment June 10 in response to a domestic battery call from Lopez. She had escaped the apartment.

Lindsey fired at the responding officers, seriously wounding Officer Kevin Valencia, who remains in a coma. Lindsey was then holed up in the apartment for almost a full day. Officers found him dead in a closet when they entered the apartment the following day.

>>Related: Wife of Orlando officer in coma: ‘My kids need a daddy. This community needs a real hero'

The children were found in their beds, police said. 

Some of the officers who worked during the standoff went to the service. 

"It's heartbreaking to see, obviously a small casket, with an infant inside," said Orlando Police Chief John Mina. 

Lindsey was Lopez’s boyfriend and the mother of all four children. Lindsey was the father of two of the children.

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