A 'Lost' Neptune-Like Planet Has Finally Been Found

Image: Michael S. Helfenbein via Yale
Image: Michael S. Helfenbein via Yale

It’s gotta be hard to be an exoplanet these days, living in the shadow of the everyone’s new favorite system, TRAPPIST-1. But the reality is, there are tons of exoplanets that deserve our love—according to NASA, as of last month, 3,472 exoplanets have been confirmed. Many more are out there, waiting for their chance in the spotlight. We just need to find them.

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Recently, team of astronomers at Yale found one such exoplanet, hiding roughly 3,000 lightyears from Earth in the Kepler-150 system. While scientists have known about the system since 2014 and have observed some of its planets, this one—called Kepler-150 f—went undetected. While computers are traditionally used to detect planetary transit signals—or the dip in a sun’s light as a planet crosses in front of it—the researchers used their human brains to figure out that somewhere along the way, a computer fucked up and it missed out on an exoplanet roughly the size of Neptune. To be fair, Kepler-150 f’s orbit is extremely long, taking 637 days to orbit its sun, and even computers could miss that. Nevertheless, the humans’ mathematical approach and process has been published in The Astronomical Journal.

“Only by using our new technique of modeling and subtracting out the transit signals of known planets could we then actually see it for what it really was,” Joseph Schmitt, a graduate student at Yale and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. “Essentially, it was hiding in plain sight in a forest of other planetary transits.”

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Whether Kepler-150 f was ever truly “lost” remains something of a mystery. Maybe it’s just got a bit of stage fright? Either way, we’re happy to have another friend out there to keep us company, even though everyone dies alone anyway.

[The Astronomical Journal]

Space Writer, Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

Yeah... We get it . You’ve ‘discovered’ a JUPITER-LIKE PLANET! I understood this article the first time I read it...and also the next 250 times I’ve read about it in a ‘different’ article which has mentioned it during the past few years.

Capitalism destroys everything, and our media is certainly no exception. News outlets want to sell as many of their papers as possible. How? Well, it seems as if it’s a constant game of cat (reporter) and mouse (reader). They create an article with a headlines which lead us to believe there MAY just be something about this ONE article that isn’t just another load of the same crap served in a different way. Nope. Never.

We have to treat it like any other addiction. Admit we are newsaholicss.. Always seeking an adrenaline-inducing news story which will shake things up. There are no casual or part-time headline junkies. Once you use, the same old inevitable spiral of pain and doom will unfold. And once again, we’ve hit rock bottom.

Hello, my name is Eric. And I’m a Newsaholic.