Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Researchers Use AI To Find Second Star System With As Many Planets As Our Own

Wendy Stenzel
NASA, Ames Research Center
The Kepler 90 planets have a similar configuration to our own solar system.

Researchers have discovered a new planet in a distant solar system, bringing the total number in the system to eight – the same number as in our own solar system.

That's a first.  

A University of Texas at Austin astronomer is part of the team that announced the discovery Thursday. This kind of discovery is happening more often, thanks to data collected by the Kepler Space Telescope, which has revealed that most stars in the sky have planets orbiting them and many have multiple planets in their systems.

“Kepler 90 is the first planetary system with eight planets, but almost certainly will not be the last. I suspect that many of these other systems have more undiscovered planets, which we just haven’t seen,” says UT-Austin astronomer Andrew Vanderburg, who’s also a Sagan Fellow.

“For the first time since our solar system planets were discovered thousands of years ago, we know for sure that the solar system is not the sole record holder for the most planets," he said, "and we’ve just scratched the surface." 

Vanderburg worked with Christopher Shallue, a software engineer at Google, to get a computer to learn how to recognize patterns in the massive amounts of data from the Kepler telescope. The computer figured out how to recognize the dip in a star’s glow caused by a planet passing across in its orbit. 

Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
Related Content