Our Neighborhood

There may be more Earth-like planets outside of our solar system than we once thought, but as this infographic from the great webcomic xkcd shows, we’re still outnumbered by plenty–and plenty bigger–planets.

The infographic shows all exoplanets within 60 light years of Earth that sit in a habitable, or “Goldilocks” zone: not too close, and not too far from a star. In other words, just the right distance to support liquid water. All of the planets are organized by approximate size, with Earth placed in the center for a sense of scale.

What the infographic _doesn’t give _is a sense of distance or position. Obviously, Earth doesn’t have a nice little square of space cut out around it, and the actual distance between these exoplanets is absurdly huge. It provides the _what, _not the _where. _

This might also provide a litmus test for cynics. Your thoughts when you see this either go along the lines of a) Wow, so many planets right next to us! or b) In 60 light years, that’s it?