4 ways AI is unlocking the mysteries of the universe


Astronomy is all about data. The universe is getting bigger and so too is the amount of information we have about it. But some of the biggest challenges of the next generation of astronomy lie in just how we’re going to study all the data we’re collecting.

To take on these challenges, astronomers are turning to machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to build new tools to rapidly search for the next big breakthroughs. Here are four ways AI is helping astronomers.

1. Planet hunting

There are a few ways to find a planet, but the most successful has been by studying transits. When an exoplanet passes in front of its parent star, it blocks some of the light we can see.

By observing many orbits of an exoplanet, astronomers build a picture of the dips in the light, which they can use to identify the planet’s properties – such as its mass, size and distance from its star. Nasa’s Kepler space telescope employed this technique to great success by watching thousands of stars at once, keeping an eye out for the telltale dips caused by planets.