If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Gamers discover two possible planets

You Canaveral good time with science.

Gamers may have helped discover two new extrasolar planets - worlds, like ours, that orbit a star and make up a solar system.

They did so through Planet Hunters, a browser based game that farms out data from Kepler Space Telescope to the public. The public watch a black graph with white dots on. The white dots measure light emitted by the star over a 30-day period. Your job is to look for dips or low-white-dots, which can suggest a planet orbiting or obstructing light from another planet.

The team responsible for the Planet Hunter already had clever-clogs computers analysing the Kepler data, the tricksters, but decided that humans, too, be given a chance to shine.

"An obvious question is why these candidates [planets] were not identified by the Kepler team," concluded the Kepler team, in a Planet Hunter paper published in a space-azine (via io9). (I don't have a subscription, I find the prices astronomical!)

"One motivation for the Planet Hunters project was that there might be odd cases that computer algorithms might miss, but that the human brain would adeptly identify.

"It is not really surprising that a few candidates failed to converge in the analysis pipelines and remained behind to be gleaned by Planet Hunters. The discoveries presented in this paper show the challenges of field confusion for transiting planets, yet also shows that Citizen Scientists can make important contributions."

Citizen Scientists are, in other words, you.

The two planet candidates are known as KIC 10905746 and KIC 6185331. Plenty of time to work on those.

Space games are great! Here's Mass Effect 3!

Will you support Eurogamer?

We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.

Tagged With

About the Author

Robert Purchese avatar

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


More News

Latest Articles

Supporters Only

Eurogamer.net logo

Buy things with globes on them

And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!

Eurogamer.net Merch