August 14, 2012, 12:14 PM — NASA's Kepler spacecraft observatory has discovered 2,229 "high-quality (multiple transits), non-circumbinary transiting planet candidates" so far, which orbit 1,770 unique stars.
But what if they all orbited a single star? That's the idea behind this video, created by Alex Parker. The animation creates a very crowded star system, as you can imagine. It's also recommended watching it in full-screen mode in the HD format so you can see even the tiny planets.
There is some actual calculations going on in the video. As Parker explains:
"Using a transit lightcurve, a planet's distance from a star and its radius are both measured in terms of the host stars' radius, and those relationships are preserved here. This means that for two planets of equal size, if one orbits a larger star it will be drawn smaller here. Similarly, because the orbital distances scale with the host stars' sizes, some planets orbit faster than others at a given distance from the star in the animation (when in reality, planets on circular orbits around a given star always orbit at the same speed at a given distance). These faster-moving planets are orbiting denser stars."
So it's not just like he threw a bunch of random circles in the animation.
Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.