Museum Blog

Astro: Kepler Orrery Movies

Posted 4/27/2011 12:04 AM by Ka Chun Yu | Comments

The Kepler mission discovered more than 1200 solar system candidates around other stars. Here is a video showing the orbital motions of all of the systems that show evidence of multiple planets as of February 2011: The size of each planet is not shown relative to scale to the size of their orbits, but the colors do code for size, with red being the largest, yellow medium, and green the smallest.

The orbital speeds are determined by Newton's law of gravity. The closer a planet orbits around its parent star, the faster it orbits. Also the more massive the star, the faster a planet will orbit given everything else being equal.

A related video was also released for small solar systems, with planetary orbits less than 0.17 Astronomical Units (AUs) in size. In comparison, the orbit of Mercury from our Sun is 0.39 AUs.

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