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Average citizens discover planet-forming hot spot outside our solar system

Eight citizen scientists helped discover an area outside our solar system where conditions are ripe for planet formation, or circumstellar disk, from behind their keyboards, Astronomy magazine reports. The disk, found near an aging red dwarf star, is the oldest on record, according to the study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The discovery gives astronomers a new direction to look to find exoplanets. The eight people who co-authored the paper did so through participation in the program Disk Detective—a NASA-led program that teaches people how to classify images from several stellar surveys, no scientific training necessary.