Systematic searches are revealing a plentitude of alien worlds

In the past 20 years astronomers have located several hundred planets orbiting distant stars. And they've only scratched the surface; in an area les than 1% of the Northern Hemisphere a group of 100 planets, called the Kepler planets, wer found. This visualization shows a representation of the known planets thus far.


The print version shows two hemispheres, the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. Star positions are projected on the hemisphere, and each circle around a star represents an orbit of an exoplant. A common view of the earth is to have two hemispheres side by side, but in order to make more efficient use of the page, the southern hemisphere is rotated and positioned at the lower left corner.

Two common star constellations, Ursa Minor and Crux, help the reader to orientate. Complementary to the main graphic are some specifications on the type of planets, as well as a subdivision of Exoplanets and non-Exoplanets.

At Malofiej 21, the premier international conference on infographics, the print version of this visualization has won a bronze medal.


The interactive version allows to transition between a hemisphere-view (image on the left) and a 'distance-from-the-sun'-view (the large image on top). Most of the exoplanets found are of an unknown type, but for quite a few this is known, such as Gas Giant, Hot Jupiter or Hot Neptune. The interactive version additionally allows for showing exoplanets by type, hiding the other types.

See the live visualization at the Scientific American website.