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07.30.15

NASA's Spitzer Confirms Closest Rocky Exoplanet

This animated movie zooms into the location of a newfound planet dubbed HD 219134b -- the closest confirmed rocky planet, and the closest "transiting" planet, outside our solar system. The planet is a bit bigger than Earth and orbits too close to its star to be habitable.

The star it orbits, HD 219134, which is a smaller and cooler than our sun, is in the famous Cassiopeia constellation and is visible to the naked eye in dark skies. The movie begins by showing a sky map of Cassiopeia and its "W" shape, then zooms into the location of HD 219134. The movie further zooms into an artist's rendition of the star and the planet, as it crosses, or transits, its star.

Telescopes can't see planets outside our solar system directly. One way planets are detected is the transit technique, in which a planet dims the star's light as it transits.

The first part of the movie was produced using World Wide Telescope, displaying the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) view of Cassiopeia and its surroundings.

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