Systemic Live

Systemic Live running in the browser.
Systemic Live running in the browser.

Systemic Live is a new web application that lets you visualize real radial velocity datasets from telescopes all around the world, and try to fit them with a planetary system model.  Systemic Live is great for students, teachers and enthusiasts, and is completely free to use. It works best on any modern browser.

Open Systemic

Tutorials and Resources

  • 51 Pegged: Rediscovering the first exoplanet with Systemic Live is an introductory tutorial. It comprises a walkthrough of the web app and a simple exercise: discovering the exoplanet around the star 51 Peg.
  • Sample homework/lab is a collection of 4 problem sets that use Systemic Live. Feel free to modify it for your uses.
  • has 4 tutorials that use Systemic Console (the links to the tutorial are right under the website banner). The tutorials  use the older version of Systemic, but it is still rather easy to find your way around.

Using Systemic for education

Systemic has been adopted in astronomy classes at UC Santa Cruz, UF, SJSU, MIT, and Columbia University, and has formed the basis for an MIT Educational Studies Program for high-school teachers (Dawson, 2009). Textbooks (e.g. Scharf, 2009) are employing the software as a basis for problem assignments.

We received several testimonials to its usefulness: for instance,

“The online Systemic Console is a real gift to the community. The online console distills years of work to optimize the modeling real radial velocity data. Students can run bootstrap Monte Carlo codes to determine measurement errors and numerical integrations to determine the dynamical stability of multi-planet systems. I use this site to train both undergraduate and graduate students – they love the power of this program.” – Prof. Debra Fischer, Yale University

“Systemic is simple enough to use that it can provide a hand-on ‘virtual lab’ for a large general education class, and yet powerful enough that it can be the basis for a final project for an upper level graduate class […] students can get a taste of the scientific process even before they learn to program” – Prof. Eric Ford, Penn State.

“I have used Systemic for several years in my class for advanced undergraduate physics majors.  The students favorite problem set uses Systemic to explore real radial velocity data sets and compare their solutions to orbital parameters for published systems. Systemic is extremely sophisticated, but easy to use, so it allows students to get a feeling for the tools used in real exoplanet research.” – Prof. Jonathan Fortney, UC Santa Cruz

“The Systemic Console provides an unparallelled opportunity to introduce upper-division students (in physics and astronomy) to cutting-edge exoplanet research in an accessible format.  Along with an easy installation process and clear user interface, it offers a range of exercises and tools suited for both beginners and experts, including searching for exoplanets, fitting their orbits, using statistical tools and tests, and analyzing their orbital stability.  The Consol features the ability to visualize the analysis results as 3-dimensional, animated orbits, which is also extremely useful as a pedagogical tool.  I used the Console extensively in my astrophysics class, and the students engaged with it readily.” – Prof. Aaron Romanowsky, San Jose State University

“I teach an introduction to planetary science for both majors at Caltech and as a MOOC for several thousand online students. Part of the goal of the class is to let students get their hands dirty with real data and real analysis tools. I am thrilled to have stumbled across the Systemic online analysis tool (and its very helpful example homework suggestions). After demonstrating the relevant equations in class, students have a good feel for the physics involved, but not until they start to try to fit real data and extract real planets do they realize the how subtle, complex, and fun the real process is. I look forward to continued development of this fantastic teaching tool.” – Prof. Mike Brown, Caltech

Systemic Live is even easier to use and only requires access to a reasonably modern browser. It can even run on recent smartphones and tablets. Saving planetary fits is easy: simply copy and paste the current URL address from your browser, no need to save files! See my fit for 51 Peg here.

Systemic is free and open-source. If you’d like to use Systemic in your class, feel free to contact me and I can provide you with pointers on how to use the application as part of a class project, lab or homework. You (or your department IT) is free to install and adapt Systemic Live on your university’s servers, as long as copyright notices and links remain prominently displayed.

Reporting bugs and requests for enhancements

Please use the Github issues page (preferred method), or contact me.


Systemic uses the following libraries:

  • Emscripten to convert the Systemic2 C code into fast Javascript code to run in the browser.
  • Highcharts for plotting, and JCanvas for the orbital plot.

(Other libraries used: Twitter Bootstrap, JQuery, underscore.js).