Yale researchers have reportedly spotted at least 60 new exoplanets which can potentially be categorised as "hot Jupiters", which are highly irradiated planets and are generally found orbitting only 1 percent of Sun-like stars.
Hot Jupiters are a class of gaseous giant plants which are located very close to their parent stars and take only less than a week to complete one orbit.
Second-year PhD student Sarah Millholland and astronomy professor Greg Laughlin identified the planet candidates through a novel application of big data techniques, according to Eureka Alert.
The researchers used a supervised machine learning algorithm to spot the small amplitude variations in observed light as a result of an orbiting planet reflecting rays of light from its host star.
"Sarah's work has given us what amounts to a 'class portrait' of extrasolar planets at their most alien," Laughlin said.
"It's amazing how the latest techniques in machine learning, compounded with high-performance computing, are allowing us to mine classic data sets for extraordinary discoveries," he added.
The research was recently presented by Millholland at a Kepler Science Conference at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.
Millholland and Laughlin are also the authors of a study about the research which is set to be published in the Astronomical Journal, reports state.
The duo observed more than 140,000 stars from four years of data from NASA's Kepler mission, and systematically searched for reflected light signals.
"I've been told by members of the Kepler science team that a search for reflected star-shine was part of the early renditions of the Kepler pipeline," Millholland said.
"They called it the Reflected Light Search, or RLS module. In this sense, we're simply addressing one of the original intentions for the Kepler data," she said.
The researchers said that the 60 newly-detected planet candidates will be followed up with further observations before confirmation. The next step of observation for the researchers would be Doppler velocity measurements.