We are not alone: The American Museum of Natural History has created a video that illustrates our remote reconnaissance of another star, and the likely planetary suspects we are likely to encounter along the way.

Awe-Inspiring Tour of Planets in Our Galactic Neighborhood

April 06, 2013

Soar through space with this amazing video showing our possible brother and sister planets in the universe—just in our galactic neighborhood, in fact.

As we pull away on this fanciful journey, the sun quickly recedes to a pinprick. The other stars don’t grow much brighter as we leave our solar system, but those with confirmed planets are circled in blue. Mind you, there is no indication or confirmation of human-based life on the planets, but each star and planetary system presents another possibility—billions of them, if the calculations are to be believed.

The American Museum of Natural History crafted this video to accompany a March 11 paper published in Astrophysical Journal that detailed researchers’ remote reconnaissance of a star system 128 light years from our own. Along the way is when we meet our stellar neighbors.

The planets’ “chemical fingerprints,” known as spectra in the scientific world, were obtained using a new telescope imaging system that can filter out surrounding starlight, the museum said in a release. Project 1640 is the name of the instruments and software that have been installed on the Palomar 200-inch telescope in California since July 2008, with enhancements and upgrades added in July 2012, the museum said. The lucky star is named HR 8799.

“This video of all the nearby stars with planets will make you cry,” writes in its assessment of the heavenly sight.

Get out the tissues.



Daniel Rosenthal's picture
Daniel Rosenthal
Submitted by Daniel Rosenthal on

A planet has actually been PHOTOGRAPHED in orbit around the star
Fomalhaut (type A3 V); the planet is a "hot Jupiter", and thus unlikely
to harbor life. But there may be other planets. Fomalhaut is hotter and
more massive than the Sun (type G2 V), and, according to current
theories, much shorter lived. Its lifetime on the main sequence before
going into its red giant phase is probably abot 1 billion years as opposed
to 10 billion years for the Sun.


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