Astronomers need your help in the search for exoplanets

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2017-02-16 09:00:07

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Astronomers need your help in the search for exoplanets

A team of astronomers led by the us Carnegie institution for science laid out in open access inspiring volume consisting of 61 000 measurements of the so-called Doppler speed 1600 neighboring stars. The researchers invite all interested and ready to help them to analyse these data, to join the search for new exoplanets.

The Collection of published data was carried out in the period from 1994 to 2008 by using the high resolution spectrometer (HIRES) installed in Hawaii Keck Observatory. Using HIRES scientists can capture the light of the stars and divide it into multi-colored channels that allows you to learn more about its properties and radial velocity, or the speed with which the star moves relative to the observer, that is us.

Despite the fact that initially such a dataset was not designed to search for exoplanets, the specialist Massachusetts Institute of technology and one of the members of the research team Jennifer Burt has been proven that the system HIRES have been able to establish itself as a potential hunter of exoplanets, however, only one indicator.

"HIRES was developed in the late "80s and early 90-ies" to find hardly detectable with the standard tools of fuzzy galaxies. The Professor who developed it – Stephen Vogt, also a member of our team search for exoplanets was one of my mentors in high school. He developed the concept of HIRES is ultimately approved because it included a set of tools that may be needed when searching for new planets", — shared Burt in an interview with Gizmodo.

The HIRES uses iodinated absorbing gas cell, allowing to observe the effect of changing the light spectrum of the star. It is also called the Doppler effect. It is called a barely noticeable change in the velocity of the star, which scientists can interpret as the gravitational effects on the star being on its orbiting exoplanet.

So, with only one data HIRES astronomers were able to detect about 100 exoplanets, including one of the most close to our Solar system — GJ 411. Opening free access to the HIRES data, Burt and her team hope to get feedback from Amateur astronomers and to consider many new and fresh ideas. Anyone is invited to install was developed by researchers in program analysis, to choose the star that I would like to study and using control functions to increase or decrease the time frame for observation. If the user will eventually find that their analysis of the star will be sufficient to meet the previously developed measurement model, it probably will mean that they have found an exoplanet and can tell scientists.

"the Good news is that we have a huge data set of many stars. However, data availability does not always indicate success. You want to spend a very large amount of work and highlight possible cases of false-positive findings. But our team is not big enough for the job. We just physically can't cope with all these challenges alone and to give sufficient attention to each individual case".

Even if no one can find exoplanets, people will be able to obtain an amazing chance to personally participate in the search process. For those interested, Professor from Yale University Greg Laughlin wrote a guide how to do it. Text available (English is highly desirable).

"This is a great chance to connect the public to search for new planets. In addition, the results of this analysis will provide new data with the other teams involved in the search for exoplanets in large observatories. Search for small exoplanets, as a rule, requires a lot of proofreading and rechecking".

"We are more open to conducting joint research projects together with the common people when is information hiding different teams can combine their efforts and resources and through this to bring science to a whole new level," — says Burt.

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