At least 60 new exoplanets which can potentially be categorised as "hot Jupiters" have been reportedly spotted by Yale researchers. According to reports, these are highly irradiated planets and are generally found orbitting only 1 percent of Sun-like stars.
The researchers explained that hot Jupiters are a class of gaseous giant plants which are located very close to their parent stars and take only less than a week to complete one orbit.
Eureka Alert reported that Sarah Millholland, a second-year PhD student and astronomy professor Greg Laughlin jointly identified the planet candidates through a novel application of big data techniques. Recently, the research was presented by Millholland at a Kepler Science Conference at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.
The researchers used a supervised machine learning algorithm to spot the small amplitude variations in observed light as a result of an orbiting planet reflecting rays of light from its host star. "Sarah's work has given us what amounts to a 'class portrait' of extrasolar planets at their most alien," Laughlin said.
"It's amazing how the latest techniques in machine learning, compounded with high-performance computing, are allowing us to mine classic data sets for extraordinary discoveries," he added.
More than 140,000 stars have been observed by the duo from the four years of data from NASA's Kepler mission, and systematically searched for reflected light signals. "I've been told by members of the Kepler science team that a search for reflected star-shine was part of the early renditions of the Kepler pipeline," Millholland said.
"They called it the Reflected Light Search, or RLS module. In this sense, we're simply addressing one of the original intentions for the Kepler data," she added.
The researchers said that they will further observe the newly-detected 60 planet candidates before giving the final confirmation. As the next step of observation, the researchers would opt for Doppler velocity measurements.