5000 exoplanets pinpointed and given a sound signature

23 August 2022

Prior to 1992 exoplanets — being planets orbiting stars other than the Sun — were unheard of. While scientists believed they existed, thirty years ago none had been found. Today though exoplanets are the rule rather than the exception with over five thousand such bodies having been identified so far.

And with an estimated one-hundred-thousand-million stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, it is likely many, many, more exoplanets will come to light. This nifty animation and sonification produced by NASA pinpoints the location of stars hosting exoplanets, while a pitch or chime conveys other information about the planet.

This animation and sonification tracks humanity’s discovery of the planets beyond our solar system over time. Turning NASA data into sounds allows users to hear the pace of discovery, with additional information conveyed by the notes themselves. As each exoplanet is discovered, a circle appears at its position in the sky. The size of the circle indicates the relative size of the planet’s orbit and the color indicates which planet detection method was used to discover it. The music is created by playing a note for each newly discovered world. The pitch of the note indicates the relative orbital period of the planet. Planets that take a longer time to orbit their stars are heard as lower notes, while planets that orbit more quickly are heard as higher notes.

The question now is how many exoplanets are capable of supporting life (as we know it), and is life present on any of these bodies.


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