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.


Carolin Crawford
Gresham Professor of Astronomy and a member of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge

Don Pollacco
Professor of Astronomy at the University of Warwick

Suzanne Aigrain
Lecturer in Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of All Souls College.

Producer: Thomas Morris.

Release date:

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 3 Oct 2013 21:30

Related topics


Carolin Crawford at the University of Cambridge


Don Pollacco at the University of Warwick


Suzanne Aigrain at the University of Oxford


Exoplanet Data Explorer


Planet Hunters


PlanetQuest - NASA




The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia


Habitable Zone Gallery


Extrasolar planet - Wikipedia





Carole Haswell, Transiting Exoplanets (Cambridge University Press, 2010)


Ray Jayawardhana, Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System (HarperCollins & Princeton University Press, 2011)


Barrie W Jones, Life in the Solar System and Beyond (Springer, 2004)


Barrie W Jones, The Search for Life Continued: Planets Around Other Stars (Springer-Praxis, 2008)


Chris Kitchin, Exoplanets: Finding, Exploring and Understanding Alien Worlds (Springer, 2011)


Michael Perryman, The Exoplanet Handbook (Cambridge University Press, 2011)


Sara Seager (ed.), Exoplanets (University of Arizona Press, 2011)



Role Contributor
PresenterMelvyn Bragg
Interviewed GuestCarolin Crawford
Interviewed GuestDon Pollacco
Interviewed GuestSuzanne Aigrain
ProducerThomas Morris

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