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The Night Sky of Exoplanets

posted Oct 19, 2011, 1:35 AM by Abel Mendez   [ updated Jun 30, 2012, 12:06 PM ]
We are developing software code to generate photorealistic visualizations of star fields. The code uses information from the stars to generate their visual appearance from any vantage point including relative brightness and color. They will be used as backgrounds for the Scientific Exoplanets Renderer and to generate more realistic stars maps of exoplanets for the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog. Here we show some reference examples using equatorial and galactic coordinates (Figures 1-3). The star data is from the Hipparcos Catalog.

Figure 1. Synthetic full-sky star field as seen from Earth for nearly 120,000 stars generated from the Hipparcos star catalog (up to magnitude 20). Stars are shown using a rectangular projection in galactic coordinates. The partly obscured Milky way center is in the center of the image. The detail is only appreciated by clicking the high resolution image. Check the ESO Milky Way Panorama for an actual picture with much more details.

Figure 2. Synthetic full-sky as seen from Earth for visible stars (up to magnitude 6.5). Stars are shown using a rectangular projection in equatorial coordinates (here is a reference diagram with the constellations). Stars along the Milky Way path are notable. Similar constructions will be used to reproduce the night sky as seem from various interesting exoplanets (Is the Sun be visible from the nearest habitable exoplanet?).

Figure 3. Synthetic sky field for 100 light years around the Sun (center) as viewed from outside the galactic plane but preserving the relative star brightness from Earth (galactic center is up). Stars are shown using a flattened projection (galactic latitude = 0) in galactic coordinates  to appreciate the relative distance from the stars to the Sun (center). Some notable stars are labeled. Similar reconstructions will be used as background for our poster of exoplanets star maps. This is a very high resolution image that requires a closer inspection.