January 31, 2009

Simulation & Visualization of Exoplanet HD 80606 b

HD 80606 bSimulation reared its head again. This enigmatic photo was rendered from data of an exoplanet known as HD 80606 b. This planet circles a star 200 light years from Earth, is four times the mass of Jupiter, and has the most eccentric orbit of any known planet. It spends most of its 111.4-day orbit at distances that would place it between Venus and Earth in our own solar system, while the closest part of its orbit brings it within 0.03 astronomical units of its star (one astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun).
I enjoy the fact that the exoplanet was imaged from data taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. It is an amazing piece of visualization. We will see more of Simulation, Visualization and Imaging as data comes pouring in from planet-hunting telescopes.