The response from BBC Stargazing viewership has been amazing! We have over 100,000 unique vistors to the Planet Hunters website since the start of the first broadcast on Monday. With volunteers participating in the UK and around the world (see where our classifications came from), we’ve completely shattered our goal of 250,000 classifications during BBC Stargazing, crossing 1 million classifications before the last broadcast even started! Well done and thank you- it would take a single person more than 2.5 years of non-stop work to match your collective effort!
With all the clicks, the science team -and their computers – have been working hard to keep up! We’ve been searching for planet candidates identified in the classifications to present for the final night of Stargazing. We have several interesting candidates that we’ve identified in the new Quarter 4 data. We still need to do careful vetting to confirm we can reject other false positives that mimic transit signals as the source for the transit-like events. But with these detections, we think we’re on the right track. One in particular looks promising and we’ve identified transits in multiple Quarters of Kepler data, with transits appearing every ~90 days. Two transits were spotted in Quarter 4 observations by Lee Threapleton and Chris Holmes, where it was noticed by the team as the Planet Hunters community was discussing the light curve on Planet Hunters Talk. The wonderful denziens of Talk, particularly Kian Jek, had already done much of the preliminary analysis. This roughly Neptune-sized (~3.6 Earth radii) planet candidate orbiting around SPH43066540 was presented by Chris live on air during the broadcast. There’s more work to be done to confirm whether these candidates are true planets – in particular, we need to talk to our friends on the Kepler team – but we’re on our way. Congratulations to you all – all that hard work is paying off.
Although we’ve hit the million classification mark for BBC Stargazing, there is more work to be done and new data to search and planets to find. We’re uploading the next three month’s worth of Kepler observations to the site in the near future. We can’t wait to find out what’s awaiting us.