Extrasolar
Stellar Radiance.jpg

Stellar Radiance.jpg

Although not the first planet of another solar system painted by Hardy, Stellar Radiance became the most popular. That was the title given to it by Rosenstiel's, who published it as a fine art print in 1970. It was voted No. 6 in the Fine Art Trades Guild's 'Top Ten Prints' – the first (and only) space art print ever to appear on this list! It's actually a hypothetical planet of Alpha Herculis, a red giant star with a small companion (out of the picture) which appears green by a contrast effect.

Proxima 1972

Proxima 1972

The most effective extrasolar scenes are often those with a red sun, whether a red supergiant or a dwarf. One of the latter is our closest stellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri, a small member of the Alpha Centauri triple system. This was painted, in acrylics, for The Challenge of the Stars with Patrick Moore in 1972. In order to have liquid water, the planet would need to orbit the red star in 10 days. The constellation Cassiopeia can be seen, with an extra star – our Sun.

Proxima 1989

Proxima 1989

In 1989 Hardy produced a new version of 'Proxima's Planet', commissioned by Novagraphics Gallery in Arizona; David attended an IAAA workshop in Utah, and travelled to Tucson to sign 500 copies. Once again it became a best-seller. This time we look in the opposite direction and see the twin, sunlike stars of Alpha Centauri A & B.

Antares 1

Antares 1

An acrylic painting from 1973 of the red supergiant Antares, which has a tiny bright bluish companion.

Antares I v2

Antares I v2

Another view of the binary star Antares, from a planet with an atmosphere.

Antares.jpg

Antares.jpg

'Antares 2' was a commission by fellow artist David Egge. It shows the red supergiant star, which we see in Scorpio and is one of the biggest and brightest stars known. It has a small bluish companion, Antares B. Hardy deliberately made the landscape reminiscent of those painted by the US 'Hudson River School' of artists, such as Thomas Moran and Frederic Church; he says that if they were alive today, rather than painting the US West they would be space artists!

After the Nova

After the Nova

'After the Nova'. The blue star has exploded, filling the sky of its scorched planet with shells of twisting gas, also illuminated by the red giant.

U-Geminorum

U-Geminorum

The binary star system consists of a white dwarf closely orbiting a red dwarf. Every few months it undergoes an outburst that greatly increases its brightness, and a ring of gas surrounds it.

Sagan's Moon

Sagan's Moon

Carl Sagan commissioned this acrylic painting of a Jupiter-type exoplanet with an earthlike moon, seen from another, airless moon. There is no reason why a large satellite of a gas-giant should not have air and water, and therefore life – though it's seasons and the pattern of night, day and eclipses would be complicated!

Tau Bootis

Tau Bootis

One of the first 'confirmed' exoplanets was released to the press and media at the end of 1999, earning itself the name of 'The Millennium Planet' (ignoring the fact that this would not start for another year!). This digital painting was commissioned by PPARC, and was widely published.

Alien Earth

Alien Earth

The search for an earthlike alien planet is still on. Hardy produced this painting to show what it might look like, seen from a close moon. (Gouache/Digital. Also forms the cover of 50 Years in Space, the paperback edition of Futures, 2006.)

New Earth

New Earth

This large acrylic painting was produced in 2002 especially for the Easter SF convention (Eastercon) of that year, and proved very popular in the Art Show. It shows an earthlike moon of a large blue gas-giant.

Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae

Hubble images of Eta Carinae show, in great detail, 2 'balloons' of gas and dust expanding from the poles of the star and reddening its light, plus a thin equatorial disc, all travelling outwards at 650km per second. Hardy shows this system in perspective from a suitable-placed But hostile) planet. (Digital, from Futures.)

Fomalhaut

Fomalhaut

In October 2002 a 'warped disc' was found around the brilliant white star Fomalhaut. Within this is a Saturn-sized planet (shown here as Saturn-like too). This planet and 2 inner ones leave a 'wake' and trails in the cold dust-cloud that surrounds the star. (Digital, for PPARC; APOD 11 October 2002.)

Gliese 581

Gliese 581

There was great excitement when it seemed that an earthlike planet had been discovered in orbit around the star Gliese 581; its third planet. It was designated 581c, and was a 'super-Earth', ie. having a mass of from 1 to 10 times that of our planet, and seemed to be in the habitable zone where liquid water was possible. It now seems that Gliese 581g is a better candidate. (Digital.)

Gliese 581 volcano

Gliese 581 volcano

When this image was about to be used on the BBC's The Sky at Night programme, the guest astronomer who was to talk about it asked if the planet could be made volcanic, as the tidal stresses between the star and various planets would create such acivity (similar to Io). So Hardy had a few hours in which to make the mountain erupt, as seen here! (Digital, from The Sky at Night.)

HD23079

HD23079

HD 23079 b is an exoplanet about 114 light years away in the constellation Reticulum. The planet has a mass of at least 2.45 Jupiters, and was discovered in 2001. (Digital, for PPARC.)

Tau Ceti

Tau Ceti

In 2007 it was announced that there could be an Earth-sized planet in orbit around the star Tau Ceti. However, as there is also a very large dust-disc surrounding this star, any planet would be likely to have many comets in its sky, and be bombarded constantly with meteorites, as shown here. So probably not a very likely abode of life! (Commissioned by RoE/PPARC.)

HD70642

HD70642

In 2007 it was announced that there could be an Earth-sized planet in orbit around the star Tau Ceti. However, as there is also a very large dust-disc surrounding this star, any planet would be likely to have many comets in its sky, and be bombarded constantly with meteorites, as shown here. So probably not a very likely abode of life! (Commissioned by RoE/PPARC.)

Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula

The spectacular Orion Nebula as it would appear from a planetary system 40 light years away. The colours shown here are a compromise between a photograph (whose colours are often exaggerated) and a naked-eye view. The human eye is most sensitive to green. (Digital, from Futures; also its cover.)

Alien Titan

Alien Titan

This painting was actually commissioned by an IAAA artist, shortly after Voyager 2 revealed the streamers from geysers on Neptune's moon Triton. But the scene here is more like Saturn seen from Titan – if Titan didn't have such a dense atmosphere. (Acrylics, 2002)

Algol

Algol

An Algol-type binary star, with a small blue-white star drawing material out of the lobe-shaped red star. This was commissioned by astronomer Dr. Dirk Terrell, who said that he had seen too many depictions in which the stars were the wrong shape! (Acrylics)

Nova

Nova

Here the small white dwarf companion of a red giant star has exploded violently, becoming a nova. It has been drawing hydrogen and helium onto its surface from its larger companion, and becoming compressed and heated to 20 million degrees, this creates runaway nuclear fusion. Any planet of this system will be incinerated. (Gouache, from The Hamlyn Book of Astronomy.)

RS Ophiuchi

RS Ophiuchi

February 12th 2006, the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi erupted for the first time since 1985. It erupted in 1898, 1933, 1958, 1967, 1985, and 2006 and reached about magnitude 5 on average. The recurrent nova is produced by a red giant and white dwarf star closely orbiting each other, as in the 'Nova' image. (Digital, for PPARC. It was an APOD on 26 July 2006.)

Pulsar Planet

Pulsar Planet

A pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star, left behind after a supernova explosion. In 1992 three planets were reported to be orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257+12. If these exist their surface would at first be red-hot, as here, but as the pulsar 'spins down' they would become very cold. Their sky would be filled by fluorescing shells of gas, twisted by magnetic fields. They may be the cores of gas giants that have moved closer to their star. (Digital, from Futures.)

Kepler 10b

Kepler 10b

Kepler 10b was the first confirmed 'terrestrial' planet to be announced, in January 2011. It was discovered by NASA's Kepler mission, whose aim is to detect earthlike planets passing in front of their parent star. It orbits very close to its star, so is much too hot to support life, and has been described as a 'more like a super-Mercury than a super-Earth'. (Digital.)

Brown Dwarf

Brown Dwarf

A brown dwarf is a planet that almost became a star – a stage just beyond a 'hot Jupiter'. The HST confirmed the existence of the first one in 1995, Gliese 229b. It is between 20 and 50 times as massive as Jupiter – too massive and hot for a planet, but too small and cool to shine like a star. Shown here is a brown dwarf with a bright white companion. (Acrylics, from Futures.)

Milky Way1

Milky Way1

Our Milky Way, a 'barred spiral', contains about 200 billion stars, of which our Sun is just one. It has two satellite galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, and is orbited by a number of globular clusters of mainly old, reddish stars, but also some 'stray stars' which have been ejected due to collisions etc. Here we look out at our galaxy from the earthlike planet of one of these stars, from a distance of some 200,000 light years. (Gouache, from Challenge of the Stars.)

Alien Life 72

Alien Life 72

This was the final illustration in 'Challenge of the Stars' with Patrick Moore in 1972. David postulated a planet in a globular cluster of tightly-packed, old, reddish stars; it has a carbon dioxide atmosphere, and the alien sacs fill with oxygen, then rise and finally fly free. An earlier, earthlike version formed a cover for Hawkwind – see next two images.

Hall of the Mountain Grill

Hall of the Mountain Grill

'Hall of the Mountain Grill' was the fourth studio album by space rock band Hawkwind, released in 1974. It is regarded by many critics as a career highlight. Hardy produced the painting for its back cover, showing an earthlike planet in a globular cluster, its sky full of stars.

Mountain Grill 2015

Mountain Grill 2015

In 2015 a big fan of the band commissioned a new version of the 'Hall of the Mountain Grill' cover – in winter. The moon has moved, and is now full, and the vegetation and city have grown. . .

Milky Way2

Milky Way2

Another view of our Milky Way galaxy, this time from a planet with a civilisation. Our galaxy is about 100,000 light years across, and our Sun is about 26,000 light years from its centre, in the 'Sagittarius Arm' near top centre of the painting, roughly where a bright white star appears (though of course this is not our Sun). (Digital, from Futures.)

Ocean of Space

Ocean of Space

'The Ocean of Space'. Another scene, this one painted mainly for artistic and symbolic reasons, of the galaxy seen from the surface of a world, this time one with a large ocean. (Acrylics, private collection of M.C.Turner.)

Jetting Galaxy

Jetting Galaxy

We cannot see the centre of our own galaxy, but it is believed that the nucleus contains a massive black hole, known as Sagittarius A-* (A-star). Indeed most galaxies probably have a black hole at their heart, sweeping up interstellar material into an accretion disc, which persists for some time before the hot gases finally plunge over the 'event horizon' into the black hole. Radiation from the hole is guided into narrow jets above and below the 'doughnut' of matter, as here. (Digital, from Futu

Cygnus X-1

Cygnus X-1

One of the first suspected examples of a black hole was Cygnus X-1. In 1972 a massive blue supergiant star in Cygnus was found to have an invisible companion which emitted X-rays. This was calculated to be 14 times as massive as the Sun – too massive to be a neutron star, so a black hole is the most likely explanation. Here it is seen pulling material away from its companion and becoming strongly heated; hence the X-rays. Excess gas is ejected in two very active jets above and below the disc.

Colliding Galaxies

Colliding Galaxies

Collisions between galaxies are actually quite common. In about 3 billion years our own Milky Way will collide with its neighbour, M31 in Andromeda. The result of such a collsion is usually an elliptical galaxy with a strange 'tail' which eventually disappears. Oddly, the individual stars often pass relatively undamaged, the spaces between them being so great. Here two galaxies are just beginning to pass through each other, seen from an inhabited planet. (Digital, from Futures.)

Threshold

Threshold

Around 1970 the late Tony Clarke, producer of the Moody Blues (who used Hardy's slides as part of their 'light show' onstage) commissioned a large painting, named 'Threshold' after their record company. It shows a large spiral galaxy – perhaps the Milky Way – seen from a stray star outside it. (Acrylics; private collection of Mrs. H. Clarke)

Arrival at an Exoplanet

Arrival at an Exoplanet

A starship arrives at the earthlike moon of a gas-giant exoplanet. This painting in gouache was an early cover painted by Hardy for the US magazine Analog Science Fiction/Fact in June 1983, illustrating an article by Gordon R. Woodcock. (Private collection of T.J.Stannard.)

The term extrasolar planet or exoplanet can apply to any world revolving round another star. 

However, until quite recently – 1995 – none had actually been detected. The first was 51 Pegasi b, and more followed quite rapidly. Most were discovered using Doppler spectroscopy: shifts toward blue or red in the light of the star. The first claims of direct observation came in 2004. Hardy was one of the first artists chosen to depict how these may look.

Text & images copyright © 2015 AstroArt by David A. Hardy. All Rights Reserved.

  • Twitter Basic
  • Facebook App Icon
  • LinkedIn App Icon
Tau Bootis

One of the first 'confirmed' exoplanets was released to the press and media at the end of 1999, earning itself the name of 'The Millennium Planet' (ignoring the fact that this would not start for another year!). This digital painting was commissioned by PPARC, and was widely published.