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Worlds Beyond

Episode 29 of 30

Astronomer Heather Couper looks at the work done by her contemporaries to find other planets like Earth. From July 2008.

Heather Couper presents a narrative history of astronomy.

In the 16th century, Giordano Bruno speculated that there must be other planets similar to our own in the universe. He was burned at the stake for this and other heresies.

Even today, with the best telescopes in the world, it remains impossible to see planets around distant stars. But in the last decade, astronomers have gathered indirect evidence for many other planetary systems. The easiest to detect and hence the first to be found were the most amazing - planets bigger than Jupiter orbiting so close to their star that they are almost touching. But evidence is now emerging that solar systems more like our own exist, some with multiple planets and some with planets that may be like Earth.

Readers are Timothy West, Robin Sebastian, Julian Rhind-Tutt and John Palmer.

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15 minutes

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