The Spitzer Space Telescope website will be down on Tuesday July 29th from 9am PDT to 10am PDT for server maintenance. Thank you for your patience.

Download Video

Video Information

Subscribe to Series

12.09.04

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-disabled Page 1 of 4 Page-nav-right

Go to page

ssc2014-02v1

03.20.14

Panning Through the Milky Way

ssc2012-11v1

07.18.12

Flying Out to GJ 436 and its Planets

ssc2010-08v1

10.19.10

Weird Warm Spot on Exoplanet

ssc2010-06v1

07.22.10

Mini Soccer Balls in Space

ssc2010-06v2

07.22.10

Buckyballs Jiggle Like Jello

ssc2009-19v1

10.06.09

Saturn Family Tour

ssc2009-16v1

08.10.09

Planetary Demolition Derby

ssc2008-09v2

05.05.08

Dissecting a Light Echo

ssc2008-09v1

05.05.08

Cauldron of Light

ssc2007-19v1

11.29.07

Pulling Back the Curtain of Dust

ssc2007-09v1

05.09.07

Blacker than Black

ssc2007-09v2

05.09.07

Mapping Exotic Worlds

ssc2007-09v3

05.09.07

How to Map a Very Faraway Planet

ssc2007-08v2

04.18.07

Highway to the Danger Zone