Nearly 2000 of the Most Earth-Like Exoplanets, Visualized


Finding life anywhere other than Earth is a challenging proposition. We don’t even have a great handle on which places in our own solar system might host life, much less a good idea of which of the numerous planets orbiting other stars in the galaxy might be habitable. Still, just a few days ago scientists announced they have discovered a potentially habitable planet called Wolf 1061c that is the closest ever spotted. And NASA’s Kepler spacecraft keeps looking for more planets that seem just enough like Earth to possibly harbor life.  

Data visualization designer Jan Willem Tulp recently dove into the universe of so-called Goldilocks planets—ones that are just the right distance away from their host stars to be able to support liquid water and life. The resulting visualization, Goldilocks, maps 1942 confirmed exoplanets (some of which recently got new names), sorting them by characteristics like their similarity to Earth, their composition and atmosphere, and their mass and temperature. Tulp worked with the European Space Agency to represent the planets’ and host stars’ size, orbits, and other features accurately.

The visualization isn’t quite as intuitive as it could be—I’d love to be able to click and see the names of each exoplanet—but it’s nonetheless a beautiful, soothing image to watch as hordes of planets orbit through space.

Check it out at (Make sure to click the info button at the bottom of the screen to make the text go away.) And if you’re really looking to dive into the world of exoplanets, try out this NASA app that lets you tour more than 1000 of them. 

[h/t: Popular Science]

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