Seven years of data went into this mesmerizing video of planets orbiting a star 129 light years away

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You’re watching planets orbiting a star that’s 129 light years away, as captured by an observatory in Hawaii. Let that sink in.

The star in question is HR 8799, found in the Pegasus constellation. The star’s claim to fame was that it was the first star whose planets were discovered using direct imaging back in 2008.

The normal methods for detecting planets around a distant star are indirect. For example, astronomers look for tiny dips in a star’s brightness, which happen when one of its planets passes in front of it. They use the depth of the dip and how long it lasts to infer the size of the planet and how long it takes to orbit the star.

HR 8799, however, is close enough that scientists could take pictures of it to spot the planets directly.

Now Jason Wang, an astronomy student at the University of California at Berkeley, has compiled the seven years’ worth of images that the Keck Observatory in Hawaii took of HR 8799 to create a mesmerizing time-lapse of its planets orbiting. The light from the star in the middle of the video is blocked out, so that it doesn’t wash out the reflected light from the planets.

The video only shows partial orbits; the planet closest to the star takes 40 Earth years to circle it, while the planet farthest out in the image will take more than 400 years. Each planet is bigger than Jupiter.

Astronomers have made videos of exoplanets orbiting before, but they don’t look as good as the one Wang has made. That’s because, Wang told Vox, that he smoothed the transitions between the frames to make the motion more fluid and “bring it to life.”

As of late January, scientists had confirmed the existence of more than 3,400 exoplanets. If we continue to improve our imaging technology, we are likely to see many more such videos.