Crowdsourcing the sky: Huge star database made available to the public

Scientists make huge dataset of nearby stars available to public

"We're trying to move toward a more community-focused aspect, where different teams can combine their resources and really take this science to the next level, instead of carefully hoarding and protecting their data", Burt said. She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science in astronomy from Swinburne University's Astronomy Online program. Such shifts are caused by slight changes in the star's velocity, which scientists can use to deduce the gravitational tug of an exoplanet.

"HIRES was not specifically optimised to do this type of exoplanet detective work, but has turned out to be a workhorse instrument of the field", said Steve Vogt of the University of California Santa Cruz in the United States, who built the instrument.

One of these planets is around a star named GJ 411, which is also called as Lalande 21185.

All the materials and information collected to make up this massive dataset were gathered between 1994 to 2008 by the High-Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES) which is located at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. With all these data compiled, any given star in the dataset can have several days', years', ore even more than a decade's worth of observations.

"We were very conservative in this paper about what counts as an exoplanet candidate and what does not", said Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, who led an analysis of the data in an effort to determine which of the findings are likely to indicate the presence of planets. "We don't often detect systems with more than three to four planets, but we could successfully map out all six in this system because we had over 18 years of data on the host star".

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Researchers have already detected more than 100 potential exoplanets, including one orbiting the fourth-closest star to our solar system-about 8.1 light years away from Earth. In search of alien worlds, they have spotted more than 100 new potential exoplanets using one of the most successful techniques. The team hopes other researchers combine the data with their own to find new planets or to launch new studies created to look more closely into potential candidates.

A team of astronomers led by the Carnegie Institution for Science made public on Monday an enormous catalog of observations on nearby stars.

Mikko Tuomi from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom led a sophisticated statistical analysis of the large data set to tease out the periodic signals most likely to be planets.

"I think this opens up possibilities for anyone who wants to do this kind of work, whether you're an academic or someone in the general public who's excited about exoplanets", Burt says. Steven Vogt was the professor who designed this project, being part of the planet-hunting team.

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