A TEAM of civic scientists and astronomers has found a planet the size of Jupiter that NASA missed.
The team announced the discovery of the exoplanet, which floats outside our solar system, last week in a new study published in The Astronomical Journal.
The gas giant has been named TOI-2180 b and is located 379 light-years from Earth.
It takes the TOI-2180 b about 261 days to orbit its G5 host star - much longer than other Jovian-like exoplanets.
The temperature on the exoplanet's mostly gas-filled surface is slightly warmer than the room temperature on Earth (about 76 degrees Fahrenheit).
Until recently, evidence of the exoplanet's existence remained hidden from NASA scientists when it was buried deep in data collected by the agency's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
TESS detects exoplanets by detecting small and patterned declines in the brightness of a star as the planet passes between the spacecraft and the star.
According to the study, the instrument had actually collected data on TOI-2180 bi June 2020.
But because the data only consists of a "single transit event," meaning that the exoplanet only crossed paths with starlight once, the NASA algorithms were unable to detect it.
The team of citizen scientists, on the other hand, were able to detect the exoplanet using a downloadable software called LcTools, which enabled them to manually scan TESS data.
"This is an area where humans are still coding," Paul Dalba, UC Riverside astronomer and lead author of the aforementioned study, said in a statement.
"The manual effort they put in is really important and really impressive because it's actually hard to write code that can go through a million light curves and identify single transit events reliably," he added.
While the orbital period of the TOI-2180 b remains a bit uncertain, astronomers predict that TESS will rediscover the planet sometime in February.
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