Planet Hunters

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Planet Hunters
Planethunters.jpg
Type of site
Volunteer Scientific Project
Available inEnglish
OwnerPlanet Hunters Team
Created byPlanet Hunters Team
URLwww.planethunters.org
CommercialNo
RegistrationOptional
Launched16 December 2010;
10 years ago
 (2010-12-16)
Current statusOngoing

Planet Hunters is a citizen science project to find exoplanets using human eyes. It does this by having users analyze data from the NASA Kepler space telescope and the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.[1][2] It was launched by a team led by Debra Fischer at Yale University,[3] as part of the Zooniverse project.[4]

History[edit]

Planet Hunters and Planet Hunters 2.0[edit]

The project was launched on December 16, 2010, after the first Data Release of Kepler data as the Planet Hunters Project.[5] 300,000 volunteers participated in the project and the project team published 8 scientific papers. On December 14, 2014, the project was re-launched as Planet Hunters 2.0, with an improved website and considering that the volunteers will look at K2 data.[6] As of November 2018 Planet Hunters identified 50% of the known planets with an orbital period larger than two years.[7]

Non-Planet Hunters project: Exoplanet Explorers[edit]

In 2017 the project Exoplanet Explorers was launched. It was another planet hunting project at Zooniverse and discovered the system K2-138 and the exoplanet K2-288Bb. This project was launched during the television program Stargazing Live and the discovery of the K2-138 system was announced during the program.[8]

Planet Hunters: TESS[edit]

On December 6, 2018, the project Planet Hunters: TESS was launched. This project uses data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and is currently active (as of February 2020).[2] This project discovered the Saturn-sized exoplanet TOI-813b.[9][10]

Planet hunting[edit]

The Planet Hunters project exploits the fact that humans are better at recognising visual patterns than computers. The website displays an image of data collected by the NASA Kepler Space Mission and asks human users (referred to as "Citizen Scientists") to look at the data and see how the brightness of a star changes over time. This brightness data is represented as a graph and referred to as a star's light curve. Such curves are helpful in discovering extrasolar planets due to the brightness of a star decreasing when a planet passes in front of it, as seen from Earth.[11] Periods of reduced brightness can thus provide evidence of planetary transits, but may also be caused by errors in recording, projection, or other phenomena.[12]

Special occurrence[edit]

Eclipsing binary stars[edit]

From time to time, the project will observe eclipsing binary stars. Essentially these are stars that orbit each other. Much as a planet can interrupt the brightness of a star, another star can too. There is a noticeable difference on the light curves. It will appear as a large transit (a large dip) and a smaller transit (a smaller dip).[13][14]

Multiplanet systems[edit]

As of December 2017, there are a total of 621 multiplanet systems, or stars that contains at least two confirmed planets.[15] In a multiplanet system plot, there are many different patterns of transit. Due to the different sizes of planets, the transits dip down to different points.[16]

Stellar flares[edit]

Stellar flares are observed when there is an explosion on the surface of a star. This will cause the star's brightness to shoot up considerably, with a steep drop off.[17]

Discoveries[edit]

Artist's impression of TOI-813b, an exoplanet discovered by Planet Hunters

So far, over 12 million observations have been analyzed. Out of those, 34 candidate planets had been found as of July 2012.[18] In October 2012 it was announced that two volunteers from the Planet Hunters initiative had discovered a novel Neptune-like planet which is part of a four star double binary system, orbiting one of the pairs of stars while the other pair of stars orbits at a distance of around 1000 AU. This is the first planet discovered to have a stable orbit in such a complex stellar environment. The system is located 7200 light years away,[19] and the new planet has been designated PH1b, short for Planet Hunters 1 b.[20][21]

Key
# circumbinary planet
§ Planet orbiting around one star in a multiple star system (S-class or Satellite-class planet)
multiple planets Host star with a Planetary system (two or more planets)

Yellow indicates a circumbinary planet. Light green indicates planet orbiting around one star in a multiple star system. Light blue indicates host stars with a planetary system, consisting out of two or more planets. Values for the host stars are acquired via SIMBAD[22] and otherwise are cited. The apparent magnitude represents the V magnitude.

Planet Mass
(MJ)
Radius
(RJ)
Orbital
period

(d)
Semimajor
axis

(AU)
Orbital
ecc.
Inclin.
(°)
Star Constell.
App.
mag.
Distance
(ly)
Spectral
type
Year of confirmation Ref
PH1b#
(Kepler-64b)
<0.531 0.55 138.3 0.65 0.07 90.1 kepler-64 Cygnus 13.718 7200 F/M 2012 [21][23]
PH2b
(Kepler-86b)
<80.0 0.9 282.5255 0.828 0.12 - 0.49 89.8 kepler-86 Cygnus 12.699 1200 ~G4 2013 [24][25][26]
PH3b
(Kepler-289b)
0.002 - 0.04 0.19 34.545 0.2 89.6 Kepler-289multiple planets Cygnus 14.144 2300 2014 [27][28][25]
PH3c
(Kepler-289c)
0.4 1.03 125.85 0.5 89.8 Kepler-289multiple planets Cygnus 14.144 2300 2014 [27][29]
PH3d
(Kepler-289d)
0.01 0.24 66.1 0.3 89.7 Kepler-289multiple planets Cygnus 14.144 2300 2014 [27][30]
WASP-47d 0.04 0.32 9.031 0.07 - 0.1 <0.014 89.3 WASP-47multiple planets Aquarius 11.9 870 G9V 2015 [31][32][33]
WASP-47e 0.02 0.16 0.7896 0.02 0.01 - 0.07 86.0 WASP-47multiple planets Aquarius 11.9 870 G9V 2015 [31][32][34]
Kepler-455b 0.6 1311.1 - 1708.4 90.0 Kepler-455 Cygnus 14.355 4100 2015 [35][36][25]
Kepler-456b 0.2 - 2.9 1167.6 - 13,721.9 89.8 Kepler-456 Lyra 12.819 2500 F5V 2015 [37][36][25]
Kepler-457b 0.2 - 0.6 31.81 89.3 Kepler-457multiple planets Lyra 14.331 3600 2015 [38][36][25]
Kepler-457c 0.1 - 0.4 74.1 - 114.1 89.7 Kepler-457multiple planets Lyra 14.331 3600 2015 [39][36]
Kepler-458b 0.4 572.38 89.8 Kepler-458multiple planets Cygnus 14.083 5500 F6IV 2015 [40][36][25]
Kepler-459b 0.5 854.08 89.9 Kepler-459 Lyra 15.487 5000 2015 [41][36][25]
Kepler-460b§ 0.6 440.78 89.9 Kepler-460multiple planets Lyra 13.827 4300 F6IV 2015 [42][36][19][25]
TOI-813b 0.60 83.89 0.42 89.6 TOI-813 Dorado 10.286 870 G0 IV 2020 [43][9]
TOI-1338b# 0.104 0.611 95.174 0.4607 0.0880 89.37 TOI-1338 Pictor 11.722 1300 M+G 2020(?) [44][45][46][47]
HD 152843b 0.017-0.057 0.304 11.6264 0.1053 0.14 88.85 HD 152843multiple planets Hercules 8.85 351.9 G0 2021 [48]
HD 152843c <0.086 0.520 19.26-35 0.115 88.89 HD 152843multiple planets Hercules 8.85 351.9 G0 2021 [48]

Variable stars and unusual systems[edit]

In September 2013 the project discovered the unusual cataclysmic variable KIC 9406652.[49] In April 2014 the unusually active SU Ursae Majoris-type dwarf nova GALEX J194419.33+491257.0 was discovered. This cataclysmic variable was discovered as a background dwarf nova of KIC 11412044.[50]

In January 2016 unusual dips in KIC 8462852 were announced. The unusual light curve of KIC 8462852 (also known as Boyajian's Star)[51] has engendered speculation that an alien civilization's Dyson sphere[52][53] is responsible.[54]

In June 2016 the project found 32 likely eclipsing binaries. The work also announced likely exoplanets.[55]

In February 2018 the first transiting exocomets were discovered. The dips were found by one of the authors, a Planet Hunters participant, in a visual search over five months of the complete Q1-Q17 Kepler light curve archive spanning 201250 target stars.[56][57]

See also[edit]

Zooniverse projects:

References[edit]

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External links[edit]