An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside the Solar System. The Open Exoplanet Catalogue contains 1,776 confirmed exoplanets. That’s a lot! In the grand scheme of things, that’s probably not very many at all, but still — a lot more than there used to be. So where are these planets? They certainly aren’t very easy to see or to visualize. Presumably they’re just out there, more or less like the stars in the night sky.

Well, I whipped up an NGRAIN 3KO model using NGRAIN Constructor SDK to visualize those planets in 3D. Their location and distance to Earth at the centre are all proportional, but I’ve given them size so that you can actually see them.

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Watch a simple simulation:

Did you notice anything?

Two distinctive cones, one more than the other, contain many planets. Has some very strange quirk of nature placed planets in our galaxy in this strange pattern? Or more likely, is this just a consequence of where we have been searching? The Kepler spacecraft finder of 963 confirmed exoplanets only sees 0.25% of the Earth’s sky.

Take a look again and think of how busy our neighbourhood within the milky way will look once we have built 399 more similar cones.

Think again when you consider that there are at least 100 billion planets in our Milky Way Galaxy.