Watch Search for Alien Worlds

Discoveries of planets and solar systems beyond our own has reached a fever pitch, thanks to powerful new observations from telescopes on the ground and in space.

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2 Seasons, 21 Episodes
February 15, 2015
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Search for Alien Worlds Full Episode Guide

  • The Pale Red Dot campaign was launched to find a planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri. Incredibly, the quest succeeded and astronomers detected a planet. The planet, Proxima b, falls within the habitable zone of its host star. It is by far the closest potential abode for alien life.

  • The Pale Red Dot campaign was launched to find a planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri. Incredibly, the quest succeeded and astronomers detected a planet. The planet, Proxima b, falls within the habitable zone of its host star. It is by far the closest potential abode for alien life.

  • State of the art instrumentation is at the forefront of a blizzard of exoplanet discoveries in the last two decades. These observations are feeding an enormous expansion in knowledge about the diverse range of exoplanets in the Milky Way Galaxy.

  • A new type of exoplanet finder distinguishes the polarized light of planet atmospheres from the light of their parent stars. It offers an ingenious new way to tease out the light of a planet with the overwhelming brightness of a star. Adapted from EsoCast

  • We can build powerful rockets able to carry people and machines into orbit, or even vault them to the moon. But our fastest spacecraft don't hold a candle to the distances that define Interstellar Flight. So what's on the drawing boards?

  • Among the methods astronomers have used to discover extra solar planets, the most successful is a technique called transit photometry. It measures changes in a star's brightness caused when a planet crosses in front of its star along our line of sight.

  • Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile found out that 40 per cent of red dwarf stars are orbited by super-Earths. Red Dwarfs are by far the most common type of star in the Milky Way galaxy, so there might be tens of billions of such planets in our galaxy alone

  • A new image from ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, reveals extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around a young star.

  • This video explores the famous solar system in the making, Beta Pictoris. Around this young hot star, a vast disk of dust and gas is now forming comets, asteroids, and planets.

  • Ground-breaking visualization that explores how stars form in dense dusty regions of our galaxy such as the Eagle nebula.

  • Check out this animation from the Kepler space telescope portraying a dramatic planetary discovery. Kepler-10b, it's called, orbits its sun at a distance more than 20 times closer than Mercury is to our Sun. The daytime temperature is more than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Intense radiation from the star has stripped it of any atmosphere.

  • From NASA and Bela Lugosi. An enormous alien planet that some astronomers thought was dead and buried has come back to life, a new study suggests.

  • The search for Earth-like planets beyond our solar system is the search for the special conditions that have allowed our planet to develop a stable biosphere.

  • One of the most fertile grounds for finding Earth-like planets turns out to be a long-overlooked class of stars. M Stars, or red dwarfs, range from one half to one-twentieth the mass of our sun and make up 76% of all the stars in our galaxy.

  • Giant telescopes are being used to search for the subtle signs of magnetic fields in other stars and even to map out the star spots on their surfaces. This information shows what the implications might be for life on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe.

  • Astronomers have discovered totally unexpected structures within the dusty disc around the star AU Microscopii. What do these fast-moving wave-like features tell us about the early years of this restless young solar system? From Hubblecast.

  • Planet hunters unveil the tricks of the trade for finding planets around nearby stars and scanning them for signs of life. Are we alone? It's the biggest question ever. And the answer is almost within reach. With so many galaxies, and each with so many stars, how could the Earth be unique?

  • European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system - the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun.

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