Crowdsourcing the Search for New Exoplanets
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Carnegie Institute of Science have made a massive dataset containing information about approximately 1,600 stars, collected by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, available to the public. Scientists believe that there is information on hundreds of undiscovered exoplanets—planets that orbit a star other than the Sun—within the newly released data. The data consists of over 61,000 measurements of more than 1,600 stars located within 325 light years of Earth. Analyzing data from just one star can be a very time consuming process, making it impossible for a small team of scientists to analyze the entire dataset on their own. The researchers have released this data with an open-source software package and an online tutorial to encourage others to help analyze the data.
Image: W.M. Keck Observatory.