Plethora of Planets, Each Shown Crossing its Sun

This illustration shows all 1,235 of the potential alien planet candidates NASA’s Kepler mission has found to date. The planets are pictured crossing in front of their host stars, which are all represented to scale.
CREDIT: Jason Rowe and Kepler team

The illustration shows all of Kepler’s candidate planets — which await confirmation by follow-up observations — crossing the face of their host stars. This provides scale, and it’s also a nod to Kepler’s planet-hunting strategy: The spacecraft detects alien worlds by measuring the telltale dips in a star’s brightness that occur during these planetary “transits.”

The graphic is the brainchild of scientist Jason Rowe, who created it in an attempt convey Kepler’s exoplanet discoveries to the masses in a clear, concise manner.

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