Archive for February, 2011
The Kepler space telescope, designed to find planets around other stars, has found an amazing little solar system. Affectionately named Kepler-11, this solar system has 6 planets (all larger than the Earth), with 5 of those planets in a super close orbit to their Sun like star.
Open the Kepler-11 simulation on your computer
- Download & Install Universe Sandbox (it’s free and includes a 60 minute trial of all the premium features)
You may want to run through the short tutorial to get a feel for how to navigate in the simulator.
- Download the Kepler-11 Solar System simulation.
- Open the simulation by either dragging the downloaded file into the Universe Sandbox window or by double clicking on it.
Check out the Bad Astronomer’s article for more on how humanity made this discovery.
Here’s a view of the complete Kepler-11 system. Note the size of the Sun is to scale with the entire simulation (it hasn’t been scaled up). The orbit of our Mercury (the closest planet to our sun), would be just slightly inside the orbit of g. In Universe Sandbox you can turn on the Solar System grid to clearly see this comparison.
Universe Sandbox’s Chart mode, by distance, view of the system. The colors and textures are mostly guesses, but astronomers are quite certain of the sizes. I’ve included our Earth for comparison. The white mass on the left is the Kepler-11 sun.