New exoplanet video explores beyond the boundaries of our solar system

Posted by ap507 at May 06, 2014 12:25 PM |
PhD student Tom Hands produces video to demonstrate vast range of time-scales on which exoplanets orbit host stars
New exoplanet video explores beyond the boundaries of our solar system

© Tom Hands

Under normal circumstances most people who dream of staring into space would need to purchase a telescope and a copy of ‘Astronomy for Dummies’ to make sense of it all.

PhD student Tom Hands from the Theoretical Astrophysics group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy has made visualising the great beyond a much more manageable process for intrepid space explorers thanks to a novel video that takes viewers on a journey through all the planetary systems we've found so far that orbit a single star.

Exoplanets are planets that exist outside of our solar system and by observing them in the video we are given an insight into just how vast the universe is and how notions of time would differ in other solar systems based on their unique orbits.

Using the collected data in the Open Exoplanet Catalogue - which contains information on 1774 different exoplanets in 1081 star systems - Hands produced the video as part of his PhD research.

Tom is supervised by Dr Richard Alexander and his research is funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC). His research concentrates on a very specific subset of exoplanetary systems in which 5 or 6 planets are crammed in very close to their stars, each taking just a few days to complete one orbit.

No longer isoated to the world of science fiction, we are now capable of exploring planets and star systems in greater detail than ever before thanks to the effort of dedicated astronomers and great feats of engineering such as the Kepler Space Telescope. Over time, as technology continues to flourish, more exoplanets will undoubtedly become clearer to us as we gaze out further into the cosmic ether.

 Watch the video below: