Thursday, January 9, 2014

Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates

Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates from Alex Parker on Vimeo.

This animation shows the 2299 high-quality (multiple transits), non-circumbinary transiting planet candidates found by NASA's Kepler mission so far. These candidates were detected around 1770 unique stars, but are animated in orbit around a single star. They are drawn to scale with accurate radii (in r / r* ), orbital periods, and orbital distances (in d / r*). They range in size from 1/3 to 84 times the radius of Earth. Colors represent an estimate of equilibrium temperature, ranging from 4,586 C at the hottest to -110 C at the coldest — red indicates warmest, and blue/indigo indicates coldest candidates.

When the system is animated edge-on, it is clear that there is no time during which the sample of stars the Kepler spacecraft is observing does not contain a planet transiting a star. In fact, on average there are dozens of transits occurring amongst the Kepler sample at any given instant.

The Kepler observatory has detected a multitude of planet candidates orbiting distant stars. The current list contains 2321 planet candidates, though some of these have already been flagged as likely false-positives or contamination from binary stars. This animation does not contain circumbinary planets or planet candidates where only a single transit has been observed, which is why "only" 2299 are shown.

Check out the current list of planet candidates and find more information on the Kepler mission on their website.

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