If you’re into space and astronomy, then right now is an amazing time to be alive. So many huge discoveries have been made over the past few decades and so many more are on the horizon, it seems like our knowledge of the universe is growing at an exponential rate. The only downside to this massive information download is that sometimes you can loose focus on just how astounding some of our discoveries have been. The short animation Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates wants you to pause and consider just how many other worlds we may have found since Kepler went on its mission in March of 2009.
In order to really give you an idea of how many exoplanets we may have discovered, Worlds puts all of the candidates in orbit around one star. The swirling mass of planets includes 2299 worlds that in reality may be orbiting around 1770 individual stars. The chaotic dance of the animation even makes Whedon’s alien solar system in the Firefly series look tame by comparison. All of the planets are drawn to scale and orbit around the single star according to each of the corresponding orbital periods that they circle their own stars at. The red to blue coloration of the candidates represents their relative temperatures as well, giving you the best at a glance representation of exoplanet candidates so far.
I am absolutely in love with this animation. Sure, it may not be big news anymore every time an exoplanet is discovered, but when you think that we had no evidence of extra solar planets just less than 20 years ago, its amazing to see what we’ve learned so far about our universe in such a short amount of time.