Citizen scientists discover strange new world that pro astronomers missed - NBC News NBC News - Fri 11 Jan 17:03 GMT
Using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists with the amateur astronomy group Exoplanet Explorers have found a possibly habitable exoplanet
The newfound exoplanet orbits a small red star 226 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Taurus.
Scientists are excited about K2-288Bb not only because of the possibility that it could support life, but also because it’s unlike anything in our solar system: a solitary, midsize planet circling a star that has a nearby stellar companion.
The breakthrough came in 2016, when members of a volunteer organization called Exoplanet Explorers took a close look at the archived Kepler observations, including some that mission scientists had deemed worthless because they were collected while the telescope was settling into a new position.
“Citizen scientists are very complete — very good at finding every little blip in the data,” Jessie Christiansen, an astronomer at Caltech and a co-founder of Exoplanet Explorers, said in an email.
Once the volunteers had flagged K2-288Bb as a likely planet, the Kepler team scrutinized its host star closely to make sure there were no other nearby stars or sudden flares that might have confused the detection.