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New Kepler Data: Feb 1

By Zak Kaplan (Yale undergrad)

Planet Hunters has just completed its first analysis of the Kepler data! With your classifications, we were able to extract information about all of the 150,000 light curves. We would like to thank the more than 16,000 registered users who have helped make Planet Hunters such a success. Special thanks to the collectors and the top 14 users who each analyzed over 5000 light curves, accounting for over 10% of the 1.3 million classifications.

To give a better idea of what you’re measuring in a transit curve, a planet crossing a star causes about the same dimming of light as a small fruit fly passing in front of a car headlight. Now imagine that car is a few thousand light-years away, and you get a sense of just how amazing the Kepler data and your work have been.

The Kepler team will have a press conference on 2 February 2011, announcing their new candidates and releasing new data that will more than quadruple the amount of data that we can serve to you.  You can join the live broadcast on NASA TV at 1pm EST and we will post the Kepler press release here next Wednesday.

For the past week, the Exoplanet Research Team at Yale has been analyzing over 3500 light curves that you marked with promising transits. We found that PH users marked transits that we would have missed. From this first set of data, we have culled approximately 300 strong planet candidates, as well as several new eclipsing binary star systems.  We are formatting the new Candidates pages now so that they will appear before the Kepler press conference.  Then, you can check to see which objects you detected independently, before the Kepler team announced them.  It will be especially interesting to see if there are some good candidates that you all found that are not on their new list. If so, we will ask the Kepler team for feedback on your new candidates.

We hope you will help continue to prove the power of citizen science, as we look for more planets beyond our solar system. Until then, keep on hunting!


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