Orbit Movies

HR 8799

This system harbors four super-Jupiters orbiting with periods that range from decades to centuries. We're currently monitoring this system to understand if and how this system is dynamically stable.

This footage consists of 10 images of HR 8799 taken with the Keck Telescope over 12 years. Video made by Jason Wang, data reduced by William Thompson and Christian Marois, and observations organized by Quinn Konopacky. Bruce Macintosh, Travis Barman, and Ben Zuckerman assisted in the observations.

Download (12-Year)

Old 7-Year Movie

Credit: Jason Wang (Northwestern)/William Thompson (UVic)/Christian Marois (NRC Herzberg)/Quinn Konopacky (UCSD)

Credit: Jason Wang & Malachi Noel (Northwestern)

β Pic b

β Pic b's orbit is just one degree from being perfectly edge-on. In this movie, twice we see the planet pass behind the coronagraph mask (black circle) that's blocking the bright star, and reppear on the other side. When the planet is unobservable, its estimated position is marked with an 'x'. β Pic b creates a warp in the disk we can see. This system also harbors a belt of rocky rubble as well as another gas giant planet closer in (both not seen in the movie). This movie is a 17-year time-lapse using over 30 frames of data from the Gemini Planet Imager, VLT/NACO, and VLT/SPHERE.


Old 5-Year Movie


The Fomalhaut system harbors a large ring of rocky debris that is analogous to our Kuiper belt. Inside this ring, the planet Fomalhaut b is on a trajectory that will cause it to pass straight through the ring. The nature of the planet remains mysterious, with the leading theory being the planet is enveloped in a sphere of dust.

The footage uses 5 images taken over 7 years using the Hubble Space Telescope. The ring is so large we don't have enough coverage of the ring to animate it. Rather, it is a composite image that combines all the data on the ring. Note that this movie was re-uploaded to fix an incorrect scale bar in December 2022 (credit to Andras Gaspar for spotting it).


Credit: Jason Wang (Northwestern)/Paul Kalas (UC Berkeley)

Credit: Jason Wang (Northwestern)/Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey

51 Eri b

51 Eri b was discovered in 2014 by the Gemini Planet Imager. At 2 Jupiter masses, it is the coolest and lowest mass imaged exoplanet to date, which makes it the imaged exoplanet that is most similar to Jupiter. It also lives in a triple star system. It orbits roughly 12 au from its main host star, but there are also two low mass stars 2000 au away that are gravitationally bound (too far away to be seen in these images). In monitoring the orbit, we wish to study the history of dynamical interactions 51 Eri b has had with the three stars in the system.

The footage uses 5 images taken over 4 years using the Gemini Planet Imager. In these 4 years, the planet is curving into the star, allowing us to see the gravitational pull of the star on this exoplanet.


How are these movies made?

We unfortunately do not have the luxury of watching these planets every night and record them. However, these planets move slowly, with orbital periods at least decades long, and predictably following Kepler's laws. We can use a technique called motion interpolation to reconstruct what the image should look like using images taken before and after the date we are interested in. Motion interpolation is a technique commonly found in video editing and in modern TVs.

What is the flare-looking stuff coming out from the stars?

The light that looks like is coming out from the mask that blocks the star is not astrophysical in origin. What you are seeing is the residual glare of the star, caused by starlight scattering off of the telescope and instrument optics. The images you see here are already processed to remove most of the glare of the bright star so that we can even see these planets. However, this process is not perfect and residual scattered starlight is what you see.


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