After it was promoted on the show, citizen scientists and fans of the program came together to contribute to a crowd-sourcing project, stalking around 100,000 stars on the Zooniverse website, which displays recent data from the Kepler Space Telescope.
And you betcha, in just 48 hours, around 10,000 volunteers discovered scores of potential new planet candidates, with scientists confirming the discovery of four “super-Earth” planets orbiting a star in the constellation of Aquarius.
Each of the planets is around double the size of Earth and about 600 light years away, Zooniverse’s principal investigator Dr. Chris Lintott told the ABC.
“They’re all much closer to the star than even Mercury is to the sun,” he said, noting that the planets were likely very rocky and hotter than hell.
On being impressed by the crowdsourcing effort, Dr. Lintott said, “From experience we’re talking the equivalent of a single astronomer working for a couple of years straight, no coffee breaks, no nipping to the loo [to complete this data].”
And if this isn’t awesome enough, scientists told the ABC that all volunteers who classified the data will be listed as co-authors on an upcoming scientific paper about the solar system’s discovery. Cool.
Not a bad effort by a bunch of eager, everyday Australians with a love of looking up at the stars.