Open Innovation Event Discovers New Planets

It wasn’t as much as the wisdom of the crowd as the keen eye of the crowd that has resulted in the possible discovery of new planets.

During a massive open innovation stargazing event on Australian TV, citizen scientists studied 100,000 stars and found lots of potential new planet candidates.

More than 10,000 volunteers spent 48 hours studying images and data, with scientists confirming they had found four “Super-Earth” planets orbiting a star in the constellation Aquarius.  It was a remarkable achievement.

A Super-Earth is a planet outside of our solar system that has more mass than the Earth, but less mass than giant planets, such as Uranus or Neptune.

Discovering New Planets

Each of the planets discovered via the Stargazing Live program are approximately twice the size of our planet, and about 600 light years away.  This was the biggest set of discoveries in the program’s history.

Dr. Chris Lintott, a professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University in the UK told ABC news about the impact the crowd can make, in getting so much work done in a short space of time.

“From experience we’re talking the equivalent of a single astronomer working for a couple of years straight, no coffee breaks, no nipping to the loo [to complete this data].”

Researchers hope the discovery of the new planets will help them with their research into finding out more about how planets are made.

In addition to bragging rights, those volunteers who contributed to the discoveries will have their names listed as co-authors on a forthcoming scientific paper about the work.

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