The Planethunters website invites volunteers to get involved in the search for exoplanets
To coincide with the BBC’s Stargazing LIVE, another nine months’ worth of data from the Kepler mission is being released to the general public through the Planethunters website today.
Planethunters, which forms part of the Zooniverse crowd-sourced astronomy project, will now feature time-lapse images of over 150,000 additional stars. Volunteers are invited to study these images and look for signs that indicate the presence of a planet. If a significant planet is discovered, the volunteer responsible for spotting it will have their name mentioned in any subsequent scientific paper.
Planethunters volunteers have already discovered several confirmed planets since the site was first put online last year, but Chris Lintott of The Sky at Night said: “We are very confident that there are more planets lurking in there to be found.”
What’s more, it is believed that the human brain, rather than a computer, will be better at noticing signs of complex systems involving variable or double stars, or multiple interacting planets.