a New time-lapse video from Northwestern University shows four exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, that orbit their star for twelve years.
the outer planets Located about 133 light-years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus, it is 7 to 10 times larger than Jupiter.
They orbit a star called HR8799, which is about 1.5 times more massive than our Sun and about five times brighter.
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On Tuesday, Northwestern University released a time-lapse video of this planetary system, providing a rare glimpse of HR8799 and the four planets orbiting it.
Capture the four worlds that orbit
In the center of the 4.5-second interval is a yellow star indicating the location of HR8799. Four light blue dots move around it, which are the four planets revolving around the solar system.
“It’s usually hard to see planets in orbit,” said Jason Wang, the Northwestern University astrophysicist who produced the video. “For example, it’s not clear that Jupiter or Mars orbits our sun because we live in the same system and we don’t have a top-down view.”
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Wang described the four exoplanets orbiting HR8799 as “extended versions” of Jupiter, SaturnAnd Neptune And Uranus. According to Northwestern University, the planet closest to the star takes about 45 Earth years to complete one orbit, while one revolution for the farthest planet takes nearly 500 years.
Wang, an expert in exoplanet imaging, created the video using observations and imaging data of the exoplanet system collected over the past 12 years.
Wang condensed the 12 years of data into an interval of 4.5 seconds, making the planets’ orbits easier to see for the human eye.
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“Astronomical events either happen too quickly or too slowly to be captured on film,” Wang said. “But this video shows planets moving on a human time scale.”
“I hope it will enable people to enjoy something wondrous,” he added.
How was the timelapse done?
(Jason Wang/Northwestern University)
According to Northwestern University, Wang created the video using various types of technology to make the images clearer.
For example, the Earth’s atmosphere caused the image to be blurred, so Wang had to use a technique called “adaptive optics” to correct the image.
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It also had to suppress glare from the HR8799. The star was very bright in the images and made it difficult to see the planets orbiting it, so a black circle was placed in the middle of the images – where the star is – so that the planets would be more visible.
With “direct imaging” technology, the star’s glare is blocked out to make any nearby planets more visible. (NASA)
Wang also had to smooth out the planetary movement. Originally, the planets seemed to jump around instead of spinning smoothly. Therefore, Wang used a form of video processing to correct it.
According to Wang, using space exploration videos is the best part of his job.
“In astrophysics, most of the time we analyze data or test hypotheses,” he said. “But that’s the fun part of science — it inspires awe.”
HR8799 and the four planets orbiting it were first imaged in November 2008, when they became the first exoplanet system to be filmed directly.
This means that, unlike artists’ renderings that illustrate – often beautifully – what celestial environments might look like, images captured with the HR8799 system are direct images of the system itself.
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