How Alien Astronomers Would See Our Solar System

NASA astronomers have simulated how alien astronomers might see our solar system. Beyond the eight planets (sorry, Pluto) of the solar system, there's a cloud of dust and odd little objects called the Kuiper Belt. The hazy cloud would be visible in the infrared part of the spectrum, and if you looked closely, you might notice a mysterious dark spot. That dark spot would give you the location of Neptune, the outermost planet. As the huge planet circles the sun, it clears out the dust from the region of the belt closest to it, creating a dark patch that could be a telltale sign that our sun has a planetary system. Check out the video for an excellent explanation of the phenomenon. [A couple of years ago, extraterrestrial hunter Richard Conn Henry called for astronomers to think more about how alien civilizations presumed to exist on somewhere else in the universe might detect the habitability of our solar system. I called this "empathetic astronomy" back then and really wish the name had stuck.] Via Physics Buzz

Presented by

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Technology

Just In