Use the links below to download an artist’s impression of an exoplanet – a planet which orbits a distant star.

Astronomers have discovered over 600 of these planets in recent years with more being discovered each week.

Exoplanets are so far away that we can't see what they really look like, so we asked scientific illustrator Greg Smye-Rumsby to create an image based on our best theories. Here's Greg's description of his fantastic image:

"Circling a distant Sun-like star we see a super-Earth accompanied by two dark, rugged moons. Slightly more massive than Earth this planet has larger oceans: its thick atmosphere partly shielding the surface from the star's radiation.

"Water vapour in the heavy atmosphere yields huge lightning bolts and sprites while at the planet's poles' aurorae reveal evidence of the new world's magnetic field generated by its molten core.

"Land can be seen on the night-side no doubt being buffeted by hurricane speed winds and torrential rain that falls slightly faster than on Earth. The days are a little longer than on Earth, allowing the planet to cool during its night."

Note that Adobe Reader is required.

Help us find an exoplanet


In January 2012 Stargazing LIVE collaborated with Zooniverse Planet Hunters to study a patch of the Universe over the three days of the show. Users helped scientists analyse data taken by NASA's Kepler mission, the biggest exoplanet-hunting telescope in space.

100,000 Stargazing LIVE viewers made over a million classifications, and an exoplanet was indeed discovered. We calll that citizen science at its very best.

 

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