What are the best scientific resources and/or public databases to be taken into consideration when designing real alien worlds? So far, there are thousands of newly discovered alien worlds.

Let's say I wanted to illustrate a newly discovered exoplanet X within the solar system Y, so where can I get reliable scientific data such as the solar system's star type where the planet lies, the star's mass, spectra, magnitude as also a few things about the planet such as its size, radius, mass, orbital period etc.

Where can I access the most up to date scientific data which is also public available so that I could keep my digital illustrations in sync with that data?

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    $\begingroup$ You might consider posing this question on space.stackexchange.com if you are looking for real world data. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2016 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ Just to be certain, you are looking for data on actual already discovered exoplanets, not information on how to create your own fictional ones, right? $\endgroup$
    – ozone
    May 21, 2016 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkRipley Space Exploration focuses on space exploration; while they allow things like planetary science, Astronomy would be more in line with this question's focus. That said, this question seems fine on Worldbuilding; we allow questions on resources like this. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    May 21, 2016 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ @ozone, thanks for your reply. Actually, it could be both, but if I'd be creating fictional ones I'd probably bond a bit to the scientific approach. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2016 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ I've got a rather long-winded answer to this too. Long ago I used the references listed by Michael and generated some empirical curve fits to the data. I'll try to write-up my planet generating algorithm. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    May 23, 2016 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


A quick Google search for "list of exoplanets" yielded several useful resources.

  • Wikipedia has multiple lists of planets including a list of nearest exoplanets, a list of multiplanetary extrasolar systems, a list of exoplanet extremes and a list of potentially habitable exoplanets, among many other exoplanet-related lists. These lists might provide good starting points for laypersons, but of course Wikipedia should never be considered a primary source.
  • The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia currently claims to list 3,412 planets in 2,554 systems. It gives data on both planets and their stars, in a somewhat technical format (so familiarity with astronomical and orbital mechanics jargon would be useful). See for example their entry for Kepler-1117 b or that for PSR 1257 12 b. It allows sorting on various criteria, including orbital period, planet mass and semi-major axis, where known.
  • The Open Exoplanet Catalogue claims to be "a catalogue of all discovered extra-solar planets". It currently claims to list 3,308 confirmed exoplanets in 2,496 systems. Its format is likely to be at least somewhat accessible to people who are not professional astronomers; compare for example their entry on Kepler-1117 b or PSR 1257 12 b. The data is available as XML files on GitHub, allowing for easy local analysis; as an example, here's the file for the Kepler-1117 system.
  • The Exoplanet Data Explorer currently claims to list 1,642 confirmed planets plus 3,786 unconfirmed candidates. They allow searching on a large number of criteria, or viewing the list in table form, and also to plot the data as graphs to visualize trends. The data pages are somewhat accessible; see for example their entry on Kepler-427 b.
  • NASA has a list of Kepler mission discoveries. The table of data is relatively accessible but rather unwieldy, and they link to the scientific papers about the discovery on each planet's specific page (which don't seem to include much else). It's probably as close to a primary source as you can get, but obviously doesn't cover discoveries made by means other than the Kepler telescope.
  • The NASA Exoplanet Archive currently claims to list 3,268 confirmed planets, 553 multi-planet systems and an additional 4,696 candidate planets. It can be browsed or searched, though the search feature appears to be very limited (allows searching only by name), and the data can be downloaded for local analysis. Like the Exoplanet Data Explorer, allows plotting the data in graphical form.
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    $\begingroup$ Bravo; these are some of the best sources out there. I'd like to mention that NASA's Exoplanet Archive and the Exoplanet Data Explorer allow you to plot graphs of different properties of exoplanets (e.g. radius vs. density), which show some amazing trends. I've used them in the past; the graphs are awesome for visualizing data and, IMHO, really easy to use. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    May 21, 2016 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed those are great places to start digging at. Thank you! I've just made a few in-app purchases for the Exoplanet (itunes.apple.com/br/app/exoplanet/id327702034?mt=8) and Star Walk 2 iOS apps. Those bring a few data visualization to the palm of the hand, but not better data than the provided by those websites in the answer though. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2016 at 20:47

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