Researchers release a big dataset to help crowdsource the search for exoplanets

What are you up over President’s Day weekend? If you didn’t answer “searching for exoplanets,” it’s time to seriously reconsider your priorities and head on over to a new dataset released by the Carnegie Institution for Science and MIT. The data dump includes around 61,000 measurements of 1,600 nearby stars.

The information, which was collected by Hawaii’s W.M. Keck Observatory over the course of two decades, is being released in an effort to crowdsource the search for additional planets.

Here’s MIT Postdoctoral fellow Jennifer Burt,

This is an amazing catalog, and we realized there just aren’t enough of us on the team to be doing as much science as could come out of this dataset. We’re trying to shift toward a more community-oriented idea of how we should do science, so that others can access the data and see something interesting.

Along with the data, the group is also offering up an online tutorial for hunting and an open-source software package to help crunch the numbers. The scientists have also identified more than 100 stars in the collected data that are good candidates for hosting planets, but need additional inspection – which, naturally, is why you’re going to cancel your plans for next weekend.