Aerospace and Defense

Watch: Tour the Exoplanets!

16 November 2017
A new 360-degree video allows you to tour six real exoplanets. Image credit: We the Curious.

A new video released by science center We the Curious in Bristol, England, offers a virtual reality tour of six real exoplanets (planets discovered outside our solar system). The tour includes:

  • LkCa 15b, a newborn gas giant about 450 light-years from Earth. Scientists have looked to it as a model for better understanding of how planets form.
  • WASP-121b, a superhot planet about 880 light-years away. The existence of a warm stratosphere similar to Earth’s is a recent discovery for this planet, which is referred to as a “hot Jupiter.”
  • HD209458b, a gas giant about 153 light-years away. Its curious comet-like tail is believed to be created by strong winds from its close parent star literally blowing off its atmosphere. Studies have suggested that the plant loses about 10,000 tons of gas every second.
  • Kepler-62e, an Earth-sized planet about 1,200 light-years away. It is believed to be a water world, with a climate very hospitable to life. A Harvard scientist has noted that it “probably has a very cloudy sky and is warm and humid all the way to the polar regions.”
  • 55 Cancri e, a planet about twice Earth’s size that’s only around 40 light-years away. It is located in the constellation Cancer, and is so close to its parent star that a full-circle orbit — which takes exactly one year on Earth — happens there in just 18 hours.
  • TRAPPIST-1e, an even-closer, Earth-sized planet around 39 light-years away. It was discovered along with six other planets making up a solar system earlier this year, and is believed to have a temperate, habitable climate.

Throughout its 11-minute length, the 4K video experience offers 360-degree exploration via cursor movement.

The video, narrated by science presenter Ross Exton, was created by British media firm Engine House VFX, working with the Bristol science center and astrophysicists at the University of Exeter. The university provided funding for the production of the video.

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