Amateur astronomers contribute to the ‘eyemeter’ discovery of four exoplanets


The University Institute of Space Sciences and Technologies of Asturias (ICTEA) of the Oviedo University has developed a collaborative project between professional and amateur astronomers thanks to which four new exoplanets and 14 new candidates. The research results have been accepted for publication in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The project named K2-EYES (K2-Ojimeter Survey) consisted of visual inspection by 10 amateur astronomers out of a total of 20,427 light curves of the 18th campaign of the Képler space telescope on its extended K2 mission.

Amateur astronomers scrutinized all light curves by eye in order to detect transits of exoplanets, a job for which they had previously been trained by ICTEA researchers.

Amateur astronomers scrutinized all the light curves obtained during the 18th campaign of the Képler Space Telescope by eye, with the aim of detecting transits of exoplanets.

Amateur astronomers scrutinized all the light curves obtained during the 18th campaign of the Képler Space Telescope by eye, with the aim of detecting transits of exoplanets.

The search, developed within the framework of the confinements of the spring of 2020 caused by the covid-19, ended with the detection of a large number of exoplanet transit-type signals, as well as new stars variables (those that, when observed from Earth, experience a variation in their brightness or fluctuate over time) reported for the first time.

The researchers then carried out in-depth filtering and analysis of all the data collected, which has concluded with the discovery of the exoplanets. K2-355b, K2-356b, K2-357b and K2-358b, along with new candidates. In addition, planets discovered in previous K2 campaigns have been recovered, whose planetary and orbital parameters have been recalculated and improved.

The research has also discussed the conditions of habitability of the planets found and a comparison has been made between automatic exoplanet detection methods and human searches.



Collaboration between amateurs and professionals

Javier de Cos, director of ICTEA, highlights that the importance of this finding lies not only in the discovery of exoplanets, but also in the launching of a collaborative project between professionals and amateurs.

Despite all the smart algorithms developed, nothing beats the human ability to detect planets

Javier De Cos (ICTEA)

“Today, despite all the intelligent algorithms developed, both in other institutions like ours, nothing beats the human capacity to detect planets. Having amateur astronomers with the appropriate training allows you to tackle ambitious projects with success. Confinement was the perfect breeding ground for these ten collaborators who, for a few months, replaced their night outings with sessions of analysis by eye ”, emphasizes the expert.

In this study, in addition to scientists from ICTEA and amateur astronomers from the Asturian Astronomical Society Omega, have participated researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Analytical Physics of the University of Oviedo, scientists from the University of tokyo (Japan), from the Chalmers University (Sweden) and Astrobiology Center (INTA-CSIC).



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