"We now know there's a star system that has as many planets as ours," said Jessie Dotson, NASA scientist with the Kepler mission. "There's every reason to think that there are stars have even more planet around it than ours."
While this is a milestone in space exploration, it's the technique used to make the discovery that's making waves. The classification was made possible by analyzing data using a form artificial intelligence from Google.
"NASA teamed up with Google to put together a self-learning algorithm or computer program that can teach itself to look for faint signals from planets they may have overlooked," explained Ben Burress, a staff astronomer at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland.
Our @NASAKepler mission's search for new planets teamed with machine learning to discover another solar system with an 8th planet that is 2,500 light-years away. Here’s what you need to know about the #Kepler90 discovery: https://t.co/2JpIr7p4pE pic.twitter.com/nqvLw5mlSv— NASA (@NASA) December 14, 2017
The discovery was well received by researchers and the general public at the space center. Astronomers say the new technique could lead to the discovery of more planets in our galaxy. "The more planets you have out there, the more potentially Earth-like planets you have and the more chances for these to be a place that harbors life," said Burress.
Adib Musawwir of Antioch brought his daughter to the center as part of a school field trip.
Have you heard? Researchers using data from our planet-hunting @NASAKepler mission and machine learning from @Google discovered an 8th planet orbiting a distant star. Ask experts about the discovery during a @reddit AMA at 12 pm PT / 3 pm ET: https://t.co/HpGFSNYWLt pic.twitter.com/82IJpprMrQ— NASA Kepler and K2 (@NASAKepler) December 14, 2017
He's always been fascinated with space exploration and this latest discovery is adding to the excitement.
"It's quite a large frontier and what we've seen so far is pretty small compared to what's out there," said Musawwir.
Researchers have discovered many more planets outside our solar system with the help of the Kepler spacecraft. Scientists now believe there may be at least one planet orbiting every star in the sky.