• For comparsion, this is the Sun, with the Earth and Jupiter both shown in Transit. You need to view the 'original size' image to see Earth, or see a zoomed in thumbnail here: www.flickr.com/photos/astroguy/5587336037/

Kepler Transiting Planet Candidates (Saturated Colours)

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Updated version: www.flickr.com/photos/astroguy/6799798449/in/photostream
Same as: www.flickr.com/photos/astroguy/5548755082/
except now, by request, with Saturated Colours.
This picture shows every Kepler planetary candidate host star with its transiting companion in silhouette. The sizes of the stars and transiting companions are properly scaled. The colours of the stars are meant to represent how the eye would see the star outside of the Earths atmosphere. Stars have been properly limb darkened and the companions have been offset relative to one another to match the modeled impact parameter. Some stars will even show more than one planet!

The largest star is 6.1 times larger that the Sun and the smallest stars are estimated to be only
0.3 times the radius of the Sun. The Sun is shown below the top row on the right by itself with the Earth and Jupiter in transit

Don't forget to check out the high-resolution version, which is necessary to see some of the smallest planetary candidates.
High Resolution: farm6.staticflickr.com/5310/5552363328_6fdd57c0d1_o.jpg

I've also added a thumbnail version of the Sun-Earth-Jupiter here: www.flickr.com/photos/astroguy/5587336037/

Follow Kepler on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NASAsKeplerMission

Follow Kepler on Twitter at @NASAKepler- twitter.com/nasakepler

For more information on star-colours, please check out: www.vendian.org/mncharity/dir3/starcolor/

LAI, Martin Cathrae, JeaMY_Lee, and 49 other people added this photo to their favorites.

  1. munnecket 48 months ago | reply

    absolutely spectacular illustration! This is a great display, kids and adults of all ages can understand what it is showing easily. Keep up the good work.

  2. ♫ Lion ♫ 48 months ago | reply


  3. Caméraboy 48 months ago | reply

    ☼ Each new discovery of Kep&Team is a major Enjoy! - Bravo.

  4. Martin Cathrae 48 months ago | reply

    Really great depiction of the candidates. It's the best for visualizing them that I've seen so far and really gives a sense of how many of the candidates are small(er) than all the confirmed transits seen by ground based telescopes.

  5. catraeus 48 months ago | reply

    So, given the fact that this survey finds orbiting objects in edge-on systems, and that the survey above has only shown us the population of stars that have orbiting objects, what is the percentage of all stars that have detectable orbiting objects (Which factor was this in Drake's calculation?)

    Beutiful image, truth - beauty ...

  6. Helio George 48 months ago | reply

    Whew!! Such a graphical representation is perfect for Kepler's accomplishment.

    [Nit: The vast majority of stars will appear very white to the unfiltered eye when observing stars at an appropriately reduced intensity. More, and with a comical flare, here: www.science20.com/solar_fun_of_the_heliochromologist/the_... ]

  7. Astro Guy 48 months ago | reply

    Very good question. To estimate the total number of planets you need to correct for the probability of a planet to transit (geometrical alignment) and survey completeness (how many did we find, versus how many should we have found).

    The probability of a planet to transit depends on how far away from the star does the planet orbit (semi-major axis or period) and the size of the star. For Jupiter-sized planets that orbit a star every few days, the probability is about 10%, for Earth-like orbits the probability is less that 1%.

    Survey completeness is much harder to estimate, but it's fairly safe to assume we have found most of the larger (Jupiter-sized) planets in short orbits and only a fraction of the smallest planets. This means that as we gather even more Kepler data we are going to find even more planets candidates.

    We also need to confirm that the transits we are seeing are indeed from planets and not false-positives such as background binary-stars. It has been estimated that 80-90% of the planets-candidates show in the picture are likely to be planets.

    The Kepler team did these calculations found that approximately 35% of stars are likely to host a planet. So, the answer to your question it seems that planets are very plentiful in our part of the Universe, especially smaller planets such as Super-Earths and Neptunes. The jury is still out on Earth-sized planets because we need to collect more data.

  8. mtmatthe 48 months ago | reply

    Do you have a list of the stars from top to bottom?

  9. girotix 48 months ago | reply

    Incredibly amazing!

    Thanks a lot!

  10. greenmantis1 48 months ago | reply


    This is beautiful, better than art, imho.

    I wonder how long did it take for you to put this image together

  11. CarbonNYC [in SF!] 48 months ago | reply

    Oh my stars! This is just fantastic. Great job on the visualization.

  12. gomario 48 months ago | reply

    Oh, very nice. Then years ago no one would have believed this . . .

  13. dcardenosa 48 months ago | reply

    Congratulations for the APOD!

  14. radar015 48 months ago | reply

    I've focused on our own sun in that graphic, noting in particular what I can see silhouetted against it. That little dot you can see is not the earth. It is Jupiter. In that graphic earth is too small to see. You have to go to a graphic listed under "original" which is a little hard to work through. Against the sun, even Jupiter looks pretty tiny. But don't mistake that for the earth. The earth is much smaller and too small to see.

  15. Helio George 48 months ago | reply

    radar015, that explains the star set aside from the others. I now see that if I put the cursor over it, then the caption states that it is the Sun and Jupiter. [This is not the case in the APOD.]

    I am curious how the color choices were made. The color seems to match the one from Colorado [ casa.colorado.edu/~ajsh/colour/Tspectrum.html] -- peach pinkish. This is erroneous, but heliochromology is still in its "infantile" state. *wink*

  16. Astro Guy 48 months ago | reply

    radar015: If you check the caption and the photo note it states that the Sun is displayed with both Jupiter and the Earth in transit. At the standard resolution shown above or on APOD you can only see Jupiter as the Earth is 10 times smaller in radius. There is a link at the end of the caption above that will lead you to a high-resolution version which will allow you see the smallest planets in transit.

    Helio George: At the end of the caption there is a link that has an indepth discussion on determining the colours of stars. This issue really boils down to the definition of white which is complicated further by the adaptive nature of sight. As stated in the title the colours have been saturated, which was an artistic decision. If you move one picture earlier in my flickr stream you can see the version without saturated colour which shows that most of the stars do appear white, but personally I like seeing colours the way they are presented here.

  17. Helio George 48 months ago | reply

    Astro Guy, your color depicition for the stars is enjoyable and it sure beats seeing primarily white stars only. I think it's fine, but there does seem to be a surprising amount of confusion over the "true" color of stars, especially regarding our own Sun. [If you can tolerate corn comedy mixed with astronomy -- not everyone can -- then you might enjoy my little heliochromological blog (see link in first post).]

    Cutting to the chase, however, you will find that unfiltered projected images of a mid-day Sun are white, as Newton called sunlight, "perfectly white". [This is true of small scopes as well, of course, but I have not bothered to test this with refractors due to obvious reasons.] Even the limb region is white and without a trace of yellow, though I don't have a study of this with hundreds of observers, admittedly. [The CLV (Center to Limb) temperature gradient along the Solar disk makes this important.]

    To be accurate, we must add the atmospheric extinctions into the projected white Solar image, but these extinctions, as you know, are only low levels of the blue end of the spectrum, assuming a mid-day alititude. Peachy pink or yellow will not be the result.

    Surprisingly, subjective elements found in color perception don't often hinder a white result. In fact, due to "color constancy", it actually helps since our retinex (as Dr. Lamb coined it) tends to make the brightest object in the field of view whiter than it would be if seen in sunlight. [Car headlights is but one example of this.]

    Bill Keel (Alabama), while at Kitt Peak a few years back, took another approach. He combined the known atmospheric extinctions of sunlight to the AM0 Solar spectral irradiance data, and found the result to be an F? star. He picked one out and noted its color - white. [But point sources, as you know, can be deceiving, though I thought it was kinda cool of him. He may or may not have used some defocusing techniques to aid in color determination.]

    I hope I don't sound too pedantic as this is more a topic for enjoyment rather than argument since the final result will hardly change anything. It just srtuck me odd one day while reading Phil Plait's stuff, that there was some ambiguity in the Sun's true color, so I felt it was a rabbit worth chassing, and I have had some fun - fun in the Sun. :)

    You might enjoy learning that I designed an instrument that will faithfully replicate the spectrum of any known object (eg stars or exoplanets) such that a beam of this light shines upon a white or grey card for us to see the color of the object. [A spectrometer, of course, easily verifys that the adjustments were correct.] I call it an asterochromograph.

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