"If extraterrestrial life is anything like what we see on Earth, then chances are it's living on Earth-like planets thousands, or even millions, of light years from our solar system.
Today, astronomers have detected over 1,700 extra-solar planets, or exoplanets, with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. While it's hard to visualize so many planets, a second-year astronomy graduate student at the University of Washington, named Ethan Kruse, has found a way that is both mesmerizing and oddly humbling.
What you're seeing in the animation is our solar system among every exoplanet that the Kepler telescope has identified since NASA launched it into space in 2009. In order to make each planet visible, the sizes are not to scale.
In total, the animation reveals a jaw-dropping 1,705 exoplanets in 685 planetary systems — just like our solar system, many other star systems contain more than one planet.
The size of each planet's orbit is to scale, so if you compare the speed of most exoplanets to the planets in our solar system, you can see that many are moving much faster, which means they're significantly closer to their parent star.
Moreover, on the left, Kruse provides a color gauge that corresponds to the different temperatures of each planet, measured in Kelvin. (The locations of exoplanets in the animation don't necessarily correlate with their true location within the Milky Way galaxy.)
Check out his animation below, where every circle you see is a planet. (Our solar system is on the far right.):"