As of this instant, we’ve found more than 800 planets orbiting other stars. We’ve also identified life forms on Earth that might survive on these alien worlds. Our discovery of life in Earth’s extreme environments has broadened our definition of the habitable zone where life might exist on a planet orbiting a distant star.
Our new Planetarium show, The X-Planets: Discovering Other Earths introduces audiences to the most famous of the newly discovered “exoplanets” — planets outside the Solar System.
The show first zooms the exoplanet’s star out of the star field, then takes viewers in for a closer look at the alien world, followed by an artist’s conception of how the planet’s surface might look:
This is perhaps the most cutting-edge science the Planetarium has ever introduced, with the latest discoveries in the search for planets around other stars and the search for extreme life forms on Earth.
The show features the following firsts in our quest for Earth-like worlds:
Date X-Planet Significance
1995 51Pegasus b First exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star
2001 HD 28185 b First exoplanet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star
2007 Gliese 581d First Earth-sized exoplanet in the habitable zone
2009 CoRot 7b First rocky exoplanet
2011 Gliese 370b First rocky exoplanet in the habitable zone
2011 Kepter 16b First exoplanet of a binary star
2012 Gliese 667Cc First rocky exoplanet in the center of the habitable zone
The X-Planets: Discovering Other Earths is now playing at the Museum’s Burke Baker Planetarium.