XKCD published an infographic a few weeks ago, showing 786 known exoplanets in our Milky Way galaxy. These are planets orbiting suns other than our own. Now the Planetary Habitability Laboratory, aided by coding from Lane Harrison, has released an interactive version of that exoplanet map. The graphic below shows what it looks like. To go to the real interactive map, click here.
There are 786 exoplanets shown on the interactive map. Meanwhile, the Exoplanet Encyclopedia shows 777 planets as of today’s date. Why the difference? Well, astronomers like other scientists don’t always agree on what’s what. They have to argue about some things with each other for awhile before everyone will accept those things as true. And that’s how science works.
Of course, at the rate new exoplanets are being discovered there will soon be many more than 777, or 786, exoplanets known in our Milky Way galaxy. According to estimates released earlier this year, there might be 100 billion planets in our galaxy.
Let ’em argue. You just enjoy exploring known exoplanets with the cool interactive map!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.