Download Video

Video Information

Subscribe to Series


A Distant Solar System

This animation portrays an artist's concept of a distant hypothetical solar system, about the same age as our own. It begins close to the star, and then moves out past a number of planets. Though "extrasolar" planets are too small to be seen with telescopes, astronomers have detected more than 100 gas giants like Jupiter via their gravitational tug on their parent stars.

The view pulls back to reveal the outer fringes of the system and a ring of dusty debris that circles the star. This debris is all that remains of the planet-forming disk from which the planets evolved.

Planets are formed when dusty material in a large disk surrounding a young star clumps together. Leftover material is eventually blown out by solar wind or pushed out by gravitational interactions with planets. Billions of years later, only an outer disk of debris remains.

These outer debris disks are too faint to be imaged directly by visible-light telescopes. They are washed out by the glare of the Sun. However, NASAÕs Spitzer Space Telescope can detect their heat, or excess thermal emission, in infrared light. This allows astronomers to study the aftermath of planet building in distant solar systems like our own.

Browse Videos in Science Animations

2040100 per page

Details or Icons

Page-nav-left Page 2 of 4 Page-nav-right

Go to page


Blacker than Black

This artist's animation illustrates the hottest planet yet observed in the universe. The scorching ball of gas, a "ho...

Watch now


Highway to the Danger Zone

"The further on the edge, the hotter the intensity," sings Kenny Loggins in "Danger Zone," a song made famous by the ...

Watch now


Infrared Rose

This movie begins by showing an optical image of the Rosette nebula, a turbulent star-forming region located 5,000 li...

Watch now


Two Suns Raise Family of Planetary Bodies

This artist's animation depicts a faraway solar system like our own -- except for one big difference. Planets and ast...

Watch now


Hot, Dry, and Cloudy (Artist Concept)

This artist's concept animation shows a cloudy Jupiter-like planet that orbits very close to its fiery hot star. NASA...

Watch now


Stars Spring Up Out of the Darkness

This artist's animation illustrates the universe's early years, from its explosive formation to its dark ages to its ...

Watch now


Hubble-Spitzer Orion

This video cycles between the Hubble view, the Spitzer view, and the combined Hubble-Spitzer view of the Orion Nebula.

Watch now


Making a Great Observatories Composite

This video shows how a Hubble image and a Spitzer image of the Orion Nebula were combined to create a new, multi-wave...

Watch now


Who Ya Gonna Call?

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is a galactic ghost buster, spotting hidden massive stars and other monsters lurking i...

Watch now


Order Amidst Chaos of Star's Explosion

This artist's animation shows the explosion of a massive star, the remains of which are named Cassiopeia A. NASA's Sp...

Watch now


Fire and Ice Planet (without data plot)

This artist's animation shows a blistering world revolving around its nearby "sun." NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Tel...

Watch now


Fire and Ice Planet

This artist's animation shows a blistering world revolving around its nearby "sun." NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Tel...

Watch now


Journey to Orion

This movie begins with a visible view of the famous Orion constellation. Superimposed on the area near Orion's sword ...

Watch now


Stars Can't Spin Out of Control

This artist's animation demonstrates how a dusty planet-forming disk can slow down a whirling young star, essentially...

Watch now


Fade to Red

This animation shows the Andromeda galaxy, first as seen in visible light by the National Optical Astronomy Observato...

Watch now


Birth of 'Phoenix' Planets?

This artist's animation depicts the explosive death of a massive star, followed by the creation of a disk made up of ...

Watch now


Cigar Galaxy up in Smoke

This movie compares a visible-light view of the "Cigar galaxy" to an infrared view from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescop...

Watch now


The Cry of Cassiopeia A

This animation begins with a stunning false-color picture of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A. It is made up of ima...

Watch now


Space Eyes See Comet Tempel 1

This artist's concept of Tempel 1 illustrates the comet's shape, reflectivity, rotation rate and surface temperature,...

Watch now


Carina in Context

This animation starts with an image of a larger but lower resolution image of the Carina Nebula from the Midcourse Sp...

Watch now