March 14, 2013
Remote Reconnaissance of Another Solar System
This visualization, produced using the Hayden Planetarium’s Digital Universe–the most comprehensive and scientifically accurate, three-dimensional map of the known universe– shows where the star HR 8799 is in relation to our solar system. Recently, a team of researchers led by the American Museum of Natural History used a suite of high-tech instrumentation and software called Project 1640 (www.amnh.org/project1640) to collect the first chemical fingerprints, or spectra, of the four red exoplanets orbiting this star. This visualization also shows other stars that are known to harbor planetary systems (stars with blue circles around them). HR 8799’s system, which is 128 light years away from Earth, is one of only a couple of these stars that have been imaged, and the only one for which spectroscopy of all the planets has been obtained. Over the next three years, the team will survey many of these other stars in the same manner in which they studied HR 8799.