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Artificial Intelligence helps scientists discover exoplanet

The use of Artificial Intelligence has now led to the discovery of a new planet outside our solar system, marking a major achievement for machine learning. Scientists at the University of Georgia utilised AI technology to analyse previously collected data and identify a previously unknown planet around the star HD 142666. The discovery adds to the growing list of over 5000 exoplanets found outside our solar system. Researchers confirmed the planet's existence using traditional methods, but the AI directed them to where to find it.


The discovery has been published in The Astrophysical Journal, highlighting the impact of AI in the field of astronomy and planetary system formation. The use of AI has revealed new processes in planetary system formation and evolution. This finding provides a significant step in the development of AI technology's potential use across various fields.


The AI technology examined the data, which astronomers previously analysed, and identified strong evidence confirming the presence of a new planet in a specific spot. The entire process took only an hour, which shows the effectiveness of AI in planetary system research. The model suggested the planet's location, and researchers confirmed the finding through simulations of the disk.


"This demonstrates that our models - and machine learning in general - have the ability to quickly and accurately identify important information that people can miss. This has the potential to dramatically speed up analysis and subsequent theoretical insights," said Jason Terry in a release. 


"It only took about an hour to analyse that entire catalogue and find strong evidence for a new planet in a specific spot, so we think there will be an important place for these types of techniques as our datasets get even larger."


The study's lead author, Jason Terry, is a doctorate candidate in the physics and astronomy department of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.


Cassandra Hall, principal investigator of the Exoplanet and Planet Formation Research Group at UGA, expressed her excitement, saying that the discovery is proof of concept, demonstrating that AI can identify unknown exoplanets. The study highlights the potential for AI technology in future planetary system research, providing a valuable tool for astronomers in identifying new planets and understanding the universe's formation.


“Now, we know for sure that we can use it to make brand new discoveries," said Hall.

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