Since the online citizen science project Planet Hunters launched last December, 40,000 web users from around the world have been helping professional astronomers analyze the light from 150,000 stars in the hopes of discovering Earth-like planets orbiting around them.
Users analyze real scientific data collected by NASA’s Kepler mission, which has been searching for planets beyond our own solar system — called exoplanets — since its launch in March 2009.
Now astronomers at Yale University have announced the discovery of the first two potential exoplanets discovered by Planet Hunters users in a new study to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“This is the first time that the public has used data from a NASA space mission to detect possible planets orbiting other stars,” said Yale astronomer and exoplanet expert Debra Fischer, who helped launch the Planet Hunters project.
Learn more about Planet Hunters at www.planethunters.org