Astronomical Leaps in Science

New Planet Detection Method Crucial For Discovering Planets With Inconsistent Orbits.

Planet Hunters and Yale Astronomers have located a low-density, low-mass planet that is unable to stay on a regular orbit. This planet, named PH3c, almost avoided discovery due to its’ inconsistent orbit around its’ sun, which is caused by the gravitational forces of other planets in PH3c’s system. PH3c’s orbital period changes 10.5 hours in only 10 orbits, and because of the irregular orbit, computers (that work by searching stellar light curves and identify regular objects that pass in front of the stars) were unable to pick up the planet. By finding PH3c, astronomers can better identify the planets surrounding the newly discovered planet. Planet Hunters, one of the main programs that aided in the discovery of PH3c, is a organization that uses citizen scientists to find clues and patterns in the data that a computer cannot find, and has found more than 60 planets since 2010. Planet Hunters is a huge step forward for astronomy and will combine human skills with computer accuracy to create a new and fascinating approach to scientific research.

Personally, I believe this is an amazing leap in science for both astronomers and citizen scientists. Our ability to incorporate knowledge from around the world and use it to benefit human kind is astonishing. This feat seems to prove that it is just a stepping-stone onto a new level for science where everyone can collaborate and contribute their knowledge to the betterment of the human race. Not only is this a great idea, it is legitimately making a difference that is contributing to the evolution of astronomy. Also, I find it fascinating that humans can spend years developing the highest levels of technology, but ultimately, the human brain will triumph with its’ ability to recognize patterns and use logics to solve problems. Here, we have valid proof that the human brain is capable of feats that computers cannot accomplish, and I find that utterly astonishing. In my own life, this really pushes me to think about how I as a person can contribute my knowledge into making the world a better way by using my talents in an effective, productive manner. By applying what I know in a community setting, or in how I act or interact with others, I can truly make a difference. All I need is an innovative idea with an action plan that will create real change. I am extremely curious about how computers could miss so many planets but become found by real people who are not necessarily dedicated to the field of astronomy. How is it possible to be so effective when anyone could be on the website without a background in astronomy? How are we able to look at the raw data and discover planets, when the computer found no trace of them? All of these questions point to the ability of the human mind to comprehend data and use our logic to discover what never has been found before.

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