3 Oct, 2013 520 Astronomy

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss exoplanets. Astronomers have speculated about the existence of planets beyond our solar system for centuries. Although strenuous efforts were made to find such planets orbiting distant stars, it was not until the 1990s that instruments became sophisticated enough to detect such remote objects. In 1992 Dale Frail and Aleksander Wolszczan discovered the first confirmed exoplanets: two planets orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12. Since then, astronomers have discovered more than 900 exoplanets, and are able to reach increasingly sophisticated conclusions about what they look like - and whether they might be able to support life. Recent data from experiments such as NASA’s space telescope Kepler indicates that such planets may be far more common than previously suspected.

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  • Carolin Crawford 20 episodes
    Gresham Professor of Astronomy and a member of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge
  • Don Pollacco 2 episodes
    Professor of Astronomy at the University of Warwick
  • Suzanne Aigrain No other episodes
    Lecturer in Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of All Souls College

Reading list

  • Transiting Exoplanets
    Carole Haswell (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System
    Ray Jayawardhana (HarperCollins & Princeton University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Life in the Solar System and Beyond
    Barrie W Jones (Springer, 2004) Google Books →
  • The Search for Life Continued: Planets Around Other Stars
    Barrie W Jones (Springer-Praxis, 2008) Google Books →
  • Exoplanets: Finding, Exploring and Understanding Alien Worlds
    Chris Kitchin (Springer, 2011) Google Books →
  • The Exoplanet Handbook
    Michael Perryman (Cambridge University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Exoplanets
    Sara Seager (ed.) (University of Arizona Press, 2011) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b03brwql

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03brwql

Auto-category: 520 (Astronomy and astrophysics)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, the star 51 Pegasi is part of the constellation Pegasus.