How would you like to journey through space for a quick tour of all those alien worlds astronomers have discovered?
No spaceship, you say? No worries. An enterprising graduate student at the University of Leicester in England has created an amazing new exoplanet video that lets you fly by 1,774 extrasolar planets in 1,081 star systems--all from the comfort of your favorite chair. Just have a look at the video above.
"I wanted to demonstrate the vast range of different time-scales on which exoplanets orbit their host stars, from things which orbit at many times the separation of the Earth and Sun over many hundreds of years, right down to planets which orbit so close to their star that they complete each orbit in just a few hours," the student, Tom Hands, said in a written statement. "I find it fascinating just how much these exoplanetary systems differ from our own system in scale."
Hands made the video as part of his PhD research in astrophysics using data from the Open Exoplanet Catalog. To date, the catalog lists 1,776 confirmed exoplanets and 1,082 planetary systems.
NASA's Kepler space telescope has detected 3,845 candidate exoplanets. Astronomers believe there are at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way galaxy.