Welcome to Planet Hunters!

Planet transiting the Star

With your help, we are looking for planets around other stars.

(c) Planet Hunters Team

 

NASA's Kepler spacecraft is one of the most powerful tools in the hunt for extrasolar planets. The Kepler team's computers are sifting through the data, but we at Planet Hunters are betting that there will be planets which can only be found via the remarkable human ability for pattern recognition.

This is a gamble, a bet if you will, on the ability of humans to beat machines just occasionally. It may be that no new planets are found or that computers have the job down to a fine art. And yet, it's just possible that you might be the first to know that a star somewhere out there in the Milky Way has a companion, just as our Sun does. Fancy giving it a try?

On March 2009, the NASA Kepler mission was launched with the goal of using the transit technique to detect exoplanets: terrestrial and larger planets orbiting other stars. With this method, planets that pass in front of their host stars block out some of the starlight causing the star to dim slightly for a few hours. The Kepler spacecraft stares at a field of stars in the Cygnus constellation and records the brightness of those stars every thirty minutes to search for transiting planets.

The time series of brightness measurements for a star is called a light curve. The Kepler spacecraft beams data for more than 150,000 stars to Earth at regular intervals. With every download of data, the time baseline of the light curves is extended.

How to take part

You are welcome to participate in this project. Visit main page of the project.

 

We find new planets by looking at how the brightness of a star changes over time.

As the planet passes in front of the star we see a dip in the light from it.

Depending on how far the planet is from the star, you may see one or many dips in the lightcurve

 

Can you spot the transits?

Light Curves