Alien Planets Discovery Documentary - Are There Other Earths?

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they're out there lurking in the vastness of space planets so weird even science fiction could not foresee them for the first time ever scientists are discovering alien worlds beyond our solar system places where ice is hot and rain is made of iron they are uncharted on earthly and unpredictable and Sun hidden among these strange new worlds scientists see the greatest discoveries of all planets like ours alien earth March 6th 2009 this Delta 2 rocket is going through its final pre-flight check it is the start of an extraordinarily ambitious mission [Music] the Kepler space observatory is hunting for planets like Earth within a region of 100,000 stars [Music] it is the culmination of a journey that began more than a decade ago with one of the most profound scientific discoveries ever made 1995 swiss astronomers michel mayor and his team make a routine observation of stars in the constellation Pegasus located 50 light-years away but the instruments shows something strange one star is violently lurching and wobbling what we discovered it's one of this tall a velocity changing is time what is powerful enough to disturb a star the size of our Sun Mayr offers a radical answer a planet but no one has ever seen a planet around another sun-like star problem in detecting planets around other stars is that as a planet orbits a nearby star that planet gets lost because of its feeble light in the glare of the very bright star in spite of the odds Mayer relies on his data and is convinced the wobbles are caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet when I read this claim from Michel my or I was very skeptical there had been many false claims of the first planet ever discovered around another star and I thought to myself oh boy here we go again so I decided to observe the star on four consecutive nights and stunningly the star was shown to wobble exactly as Michelle may or had said Michel mayor and his teammate DDA Kalos announced their discovery it rocks the scientific community they had found for the first time reproducible confirmable evidence of the existence of a planet around a sun-like star [Music] officially called 51 pegasi B the planet is nicknamed Bellerophon in honor of the Greek hero who tamed the winged horse Pegasus it is a planet that breaks all the rules Bellerophon roasts in the blazing starlight at temperatures of roughly 1800 degrees Fahrenheit [Music] it is nearly 150 times more massive than Earth and is a gas giant like Jupiter [Music] a gas giant is a planet made mostly of hydrogen helium only the outer layers are gas but inside hydrogen helium is compressed to huge huge huge pressures it doesn't resemble a gas at all unlike anything found in our solar system this is an entirely new class of planet what scientists call a hot Jupiter if you go to Hawaii and see the lava flow there that's how hot a hot Jupiters it's very very hot [Music] the earth is a comfortable 93 million miles away from the Sun these hot Jupiters are roughly a hundred times closer and so the amount of sunlight that they get is ten thousand times larger if this represents the star and this a hot Jupiter a hot Jupiter is three to four stellar diameters away from the star so that would be one two three this is how close a hot Jupiter would be to its star hot Jupiters are tidally locked they present the same face to the star at all times just like the moon does to earth it's going to be permanent daylight on one side and permanent nighttime on the back if I were stuck in a hot Jupiter I'd want to be on the back side and hope that some of the heat from the front side facing the star would make its way on the back [Music] the variations in temperature make Valera fons atmosphere extremely windy [Music] the wind howls at thousands of miles per hour far beyond anything we could ever withstand the heat blast guarantees water vapor cannot exist but that doesn't mean there is no rain it's far too hot for water liquid clouds to form here but instead these clouds would be made out of iron iron vapor can exist at temperatures much higher than water and because of that things could get a little messy you better have an umbrella that's pretty sturdy because the iron is going to start coating your umbrella very rapidly and making it extremely heavy and just crush that umbrella the sky overhead is filled with dancing curtains of color charged particles from the nearby star make Aurora's far more extreme than the Northern Lights on earth there is something even more unique about this newly discovered world Bellerophon orbits its Sun in a blistering 4.2 days no self-respecting planet goes around a star in 4.2 days none of the planets in our solar system take such a short amount of time [Music] for scientists the tiny orbit challenges long-held notions of how planets form the fact of the planets orbitting every four days was a total puzzle until one night the North another I woke up and said well this must be proof that PI it's migrated inwards they don't stay put where they are the key to the puzzle is found in how planets are made planets are a byproduct of star formation when stars form they have a disk of dust and debris around them and out of that debris planets form much of what we know comes from Hubble Space Telescope as it aims at regions like the Eagle Nebula [Music] this interstellar cloud is studded with collapsing discs of dust and gas [Music] a giant clump grows in the center of each disk temperatures reach a searing 18 million degrees the same nuclear fusion that powers our Sun is unleashed the star is born' radiation from the star generates a stellar wind that sweeps away leftover dust and debris some of the dust survives and remains in orbit around the newborn star over millions of years the dust sticks together forming knots that grow into asteroids and the asteroids grow into planets these planets migrate through the disk until they find a stable orbit this is why Bellerophon is so close to its parent star but one newly discovered world has found its stable orbit in a place no planet should ever go 2150 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Pegasus this is the same region where Bellerophon was found six years earlier Hubble is tracking another hot Jupiter discovered by astronomer Geoff Marcy but this one is different from Bellerophon you've probably heard of the planet HT 209 four five eight B it's a terrible name a terrible name for a terrible place HD two oh nine four five eight B has been dubbed by some as Osiris after the Egyptian god of the dead Osiris is over two hundred times more massive than Earth it is migrated perilously close to its Sun at a mere four million miles from the blazing solar surface Osiris Broyles in a planetary hell the average daily temperature on Osiris is over 2,000 degrees forget global warming this is global frying and it causes Osiris to lose an estimated five hundred fifty thousand tons of air every second there's a leak of gas a steady stream of hydrogen and helium and that's making a big huge cloud all around the planet its atmosphere is bleeding into space scientists speculate that a colossal trail of gas spirals behind the planet for thousands of miles Osiris presents an unprecedented opportunity for astronomers using Hubble they analyze the alien planets bloated atmosphere this is the absolutely first time where we could tell what is the composition of the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet surprisingly Hubble detects many of the basic chemicals you need for life sodium carbon hydrogen and oxygen but Osiris is far too hot for life as we know it there may be other forms of life however that thrive on higher temperature there's no solid surface as we know it on a hot Jupiter so this life would have to be just tiny little microbes floating around on aerosols then on our own earth we have life that floats around in our atmosphere but that life didn't start there so life almost certainly would not exist on hot Jupiters astronomers had discovered many hot Jupiters since Bellerophon was found in 1995 but conditions on these worlds rule them out as places where the drama of life can unfold one of these gas giants is a planet that teases the rules of evolution [Music] astronomer Geoff Marcy discovers something shocking about a planet orbiting a star called sixteen Cygnus be located some 70 light-years away in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan the planet was clearly in an elongated orbit bringing the planet close to and then far from the host star and this of course defied our expectations based on our own solar system where all of the planets go around our Sun in nearly circular orbits like phonograph grooves in a record like a giant yo-yo in space the gas giant swings back and forth across its solar system that is like the earth swooping 25 million miles closer to the Sun then slinging past Mars all the way out towards Jupiter every year [Music] and like all of the gas giants in our solar system this yo-yo planet might have an entourage of moons Marcy speculates that one of these moons could be similar to earth and here's where the interesting story begins imagine a rocky moon with lakes oceans may be streams and waterfalls on the surface the moon orbiting its planet the two of them orbiting the host star unlike the airless moon that circles the earth this moon is a world with extreme seasons on earth the seasons are caused by the tilt of our planet here they are caused by the elongated orbit these poor planets that are in these elongated elliptical orbits suffer terrible changes in their climate throughout a year as they make their closest approach the yo-yo planet and its moon are blow-torched by the star summer begins the atmosphere on the earth-like moon is savaged with raging storms category 5 hurricanes on earth are tiny Eddie's compared to the monster vortexes that form here the clouds thicken as the water evaporates temperatures rise dramatically any water or gases would heat up and indeed though oceans would boil into steam so you'd end up with a big steam bath during the peak of the summer the entire moon is smothered in 800 degree temperatures this is the closest approach to the star during its 26 month orbit the summer season is barely two months long but what a season [Music] the planet and its moons swing away from the furnace of the star temperatures fall to range as we would find temperate and comfortable with the coming of fall the rains return to the parched and roasted moon dry ocean basins are replenished and the Seas rise to form new shorelines tranquility prevails as the yo-yo planet and its moon slip into the deep freeze of winter now over 200 million miles from the star the daytime sky is dark temperatures hover around 260 degrees below winters are long lasting 17 months [Music] with the coming of spring the Sun looms large in the skies over this hapless moon as the ice cracks and melts violently huge icebergs calve into a stormy and fast rising ocean for two preciously short periods during the spring thaw and the autumn rains the climate on this earth like Moon is balmy and comfortable at a distance of 93 million miles from the star roughly the same distance as Earth from the Sun the elliptical orbit of this planet and its moon crosses an area around the star some scientists call the Goldilocks zone the conditions here are just right for life if you're too close to the star then it's too hot if you're too far away then it's gonna be too cold and everything it's gonna be icy but then if you're right in the middle it's just right every star has a Goldilocks zone where that zone is depends on the size and temperature of the star in our solar system Venus marks the inner boundary and Mars the outer boundary earth and it's abundance of life is right in the middle the yo-yo planet passes through the Goldilocks zone twice a year for three and a half months during the spring as it races in down and again in the fall for three and a half months as it hurtles back into the colder reaches of space could life survive the conditions outside the Goldilocks zone there could be life-forms that are smart enough to hibernate as do animals on the earth during the winter season if this sounds fantastic I offer you the tidal zones on the earth on the tidal zones life proliferates of course near the seashore and they do so despite tides the water coming in covering many of the life forms the water going out at low tide and yet those species survive perfectly well the strange cycle of the yo-yo planet's orbit creates fleeting conditions suitable for life but also for death some alien planets are even more bizarre imagine a world that has no star to orbit scientists speculate that our galaxy is teeming with rogue planets adrift in the murky lanes of interstellar space these are orphaned world's planets that are booted from their solar systems by the chaos of planetary migration astronomers call such worlds plain emos plen emos are planets without a star they're just drifting through the galaxy indefinitely what massive force would it take to kick a planet out of the solar system when a young star forms with the contingent of planets around it many of those planets gravitationally interact with each other they yank on each other slingshot each other so that one of them is ejected from the planetary system voted off the island if you will [Music] if you were fortunately resident on a planet that was kicked out by a collision or a near collision with another large object you'd probably rapidly move out of the habitable zone there are hundreds of billions of these lost wayward poor wandering planets out in our Milky Way galaxy with no parent star to warm them up cold dark quiet because plenum o--'s have no son they are worlds without days or years they keep vigil through an eternal night pliny Mo's are solitary Wanderers sentinels of the galaxy just because it's out there drifting in space doesn't mean a plan emo is dead if the plan emo is a rocky world it could well have life on it a small rocky plenum oh without an atmosphere will slumber an extreme cold far colder than the coldest winter day on our own South Pole but a plenty no large enough to retain an atmosphere traps the heat generated when the planet was first formed it is the ultimate greenhouse effect the heat and energy comes from the molten core deep inside the Lonely Planet if the plenum ah is a gas giant like Jupiter it may have a system of moons the gravitational pull between the plenum o and its moons creates friction causing the interior of the moons to stay warm these moons could also have life on them in the same way that Jupiter's moon Io has volcanoes and has a lot of heat energy being generated by interactions with Jupiter the other mints if anything lives here it will be single cells like common bacteria found on earth not complex life forms without a Sun to provide photosynthesis these tiny organisms derive their energy from the chemistry in the soil of the plenum ax or its moon [Music] on earth there are similar conditions colonies of bacteria are found deep within mine shafts in South Africa they have no access to oxygen nor light and survived entirely on the chemicals they make from the surrounding dirt their metabolisms are extremely slow and they reproduce only once every thousand years if life dwells on a sunless plenty low it could be organisms like them marooned when their planet was young while plenty Mo's slumbers undisturbed there are worse places to be in the universe like in the company of this lethal pulsar some 980 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Virgo from afar a pulsar looks like a blinking light but up close pulsars machinegun their surroundings with deadly radiation they are no place for planets yet something interferes with the precision of this pulsar one explanation is that the anomaly is caused by a planet but many astronomers are skeptical that planets orbiting a pulsar can exist the reason that's a problem is because Pal stars are formed in this incredible explosions when a red giant star explodes a Titanic fireball known as a supernova unleashes as much energy in one minute as our Sun generates in its lifetime when a star goes supernova the shock wave is so immense it's hard to imagine any planet surviving that when the cosmic dust clears all that remains is the crushed core of the red giant pulsing in the heart of an expanding debris field [Music] matter blasted from the colossal explosion falls back to the pulsar and forms a disk [Music] within this chaos a new world arises born of fire and destruction a planetary zombie raised from the carcass of the former red giant star it's amazing that planets could form in that environment a planet orbiting a pulsar will give you the feeling of pink in a disco bar with a very strong strobe light which is the pulsar radiation from this stellar Beast breaks down the organic molecules needed for life the pulsar has these very strong magnetic fields that are being spun around as the star is rotating quickly and it's picking up any material electrons protons and speeding them up and slinging them out it at high speed so it's like a solar wind with a vengeance I can't imagine that there would be much of an opportunity for even simple life microbial life to emerge and to flourish on a planet around a pulsar largely because if you are in the pulse you'd be severely energized and if you are not in the pulse you would be completely devoid of energy the discovery of pulsar planets shows how new worlds can form in the wake of a star's destruction no matter where a planet arises the process of its birth is fraught with danger sometimes the violence is so great the end of the world comes before the beginning 2007 astronomers using the giant Gemini North telescope make a strange discovery in the Pleiades cluster some four hundred light-years from Earth a star known only by its catalog number HD twenty three five one four is surrounded by a giant doughnut shaped cloud of dust and gas the star in the middle of the doughnut shape is about 100 million years old a cosmic toddler in astronomical terms our Sun is 45 times older the conditions are perfect for planets to form but spectral analysis finds something strange the dust is utterly pulverized [Music] typically a newborn star is surrounded by fledgling planets planets form around the young star in a protoplanetary disk of gas and dust and then these planets go on their merry way orbiting the star not realizing that they're in an orbit that's too close to another planet millions of years ago two primordial planets orbiting HD 23:51 four are spinning toward doing [Music] as the two worlds closed in tidal forces torque each planet from spheres to egg shapes nothing remains the two worlds are annihilated creating the dust and debris seen around star HD 23 5 1 4 4 billion years ago a similar apocalypse came to earth a mars-sized planet forms in roughly the same orbit as the newborn earth like the planets at HD 23 5-1 for Earth and this mars-sized body are barreling toward each other if you happen to be unlucky enough to be standing on a growing planet when it was the process of still becoming the earth you might wake up one morning and notice that the sky was getting darker and darker as a mars-sized body was coming at you within a period of less than an hour and when it hits the shockwave is felt all over the planet scouring the surface of the earth the collision obliterates one side of the planet molten rock sprays out into space the entire globe is peppered by meteors and noxious vapor will actually make hell look like a Bahamas vacation the debris field from the collision coalesces and forms our moon it is a new beginning for our planet collisions are part of the first process for planetary systems building up a terrestrial planet is probably all about colliding pieces of rock together and all across the galaxy colliding pieces of rock are forming terrestrial worlds that defy the imagination there is a new planet out there applied we were not aware of existing before it is not just one planet it is a new type of planet Earth on steroids I like to call them super Earths they're just like the earth except bigger up to about ten times the mass of the earth one family that the super star example just like our own earth continents oceans some of them may be very try like Mars and then another family that we call water worlds or ocean planets that are completely covered with water welcome to Gliese 581c [Music] this planet was found by michelle maher and it orbits with two other planets around a very small star it's only 20 light-years away in the constellation of Libra and is one of the smallest terrestrial planets found beyond our solar system that doesn't mean Gliese 581c is small it's still a super earth with five times the mass of our home planet but it's the possibility of liquid water that excites scientists an ocean planet feels like being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no land in sight just water puffy white clouds and blue sky above you the winds on the ocean world going to be similar to that of the earth so it will be a very good place to sail the weather it's absolutely perfect every day you get a clear blue sky and the Sun just stays in the same place you know how's that for weather prediction [Music] no land anywhere even miles beneath the surface this water layer would extend very far down at least a quarter of the way down in the planet but as we dive deeper into the sea the pressure builds at thirty five thousand feet below the surface we passed the point where the deepest oceans on earth bottomed out we passed the 100 thousand foot mark [Music] the pressure is so great water itself begins to take on surprising new forms at a depth of ten times the greatest ocean depth on earth we reach the bottom when you have a large amount of water then at the bottom of an ocean you will form very high pressure in excess of a million atmospheres and that pressure will compress the liquid water that is the ocean into a state which we call ice seven no it's not like ice in your refrigerator the molecules of water that are in the ice in your refrigerator are kind of all jumbled up but if you form ice under very high pressure then the water molecules can become ordered they can become aligned I can show you a crystal that is a very good analog to i7 this is highlight also known commonly as rock salt I seven may exist within our own solar system Europa a moon of Jupiter could possibly have a mantle of liquid water surrounded by a thick icy crust the pressure from the crust is so great that I seven might exist deep within these Uncharted Seas if we scale up and thaw out Europa it could be a water world similar to Gliese 581c one could imagine that life could emerge on a water world after all water is essential to life on Earth everywhere on earth where there is water there is life you cannot find a sterile drop of water on earth unless you put it in the microwave yourself on this water world there could be bacteria or any kind of life in the ocean itself but not all of the super Earths are water world's teeming with life when we talk about super Earths we talked about two major families mostly rocky with some water and mostly water with an endless ocean but one has to add to those a third family of probably very rare super Earths and there's like planets which are called carbon planets a carbon planet is unlike anything we've ever seen anywhere a place with an alien chemistry but loaded with very earthly treasures throughout our galaxy there are planets barren and poor and inhospitable but science is on the trail of a new type of planet an entire world of treasure in our own solar system in our Sun and and all the stars nearby there's always more oxygen than carbon but if we think of a place in the universe where there's more carbon than oxygen then planet formation is very different spectral analysis shows carbon to be far more plentiful 26,000 light years away near the centre of our galaxy planets that form here may contain a rich abundance of carbon the morning sky on a carbon world would be anything but crystal clear and B I'm picturing a yellow haze with black clouds of soot and as you descended farther down in the atmosphere I could imagine lakes that were made out of compounds like methane or gasoline I'm picturing these bubbling foul-smelling pits of black ooze like an oil well with little or no water in the atmosphere the air is made of carbon compounds methane butane pentane benzene all these different kinds of carbon compounds that separate out when you refine gasoline one day it might be raining benzene the next day it might be raining butane alien as carbon planets might seem the air quality could be familiar to some the air in a very benzene rich planet will resemble that of LA a lot of small particles that unfortunately we're quite used to from the exhaustive cars despite the pollution carbon planets could come with a sparkling upside you might see diamond because the planet may have substantial quantities of pure carbon than it's formed out of than pure carbon when you compress it tend to form into diamond the secrets of exotic planets like these are waiting to be discovered all across the galaxy but astronomers won't be satisfied until they find the Holy Grail a planet like our own one that sustains life the next earth people always ask me do I think we're going to find another planet like Earth and I answer absolutely every star probably has planets roughly the same size as our earth we think that essentially every star has several earth mass or super earth massive planets so if you have say 200 billion stars in the galaxy that may mean there are 400 billion earths in the galaxy or more 400 billion earths the Kepler space observatory is the first instrument capable of finding one of these planets Kepler is looking at the constellation Cygnus in the night sky at 100,000 stars taking picture after picture after picture minute after minute and the goal of Kepler is simple to look for stars among the 100,000 that dim when a star dimmed slightly it means a planet passes in front blocking some of the light how long the star dims and how much light gets blocked will tell scientists about the size of the planet and the distance from its Sun a good analogy for this is looking for the dip in the light that you would see from a searchlight if a small moth flew across the searchlight and so it's a really tiny dip in the line as the planet transits it is a very powerful technique because it allows you to discover planets that are even smaller than the size of the earth around stars similar to this Sun it is a technique that is changing the course of science we think we may be able to find a planet that is habitable in the next few years scientists estimate the Kepler mission will find a minimum of 50 alien Earth's one of the big questions that anybody looking for life beyond the earth is facing today is what if we don't recognize life even though we discover it conditions on an alien earth may cause life to evolve differently my hope is that we'll see some sign that will make our hair stand up on the back of our necks whatever that sign is it will be the first chapter on the greatest scientific story ever taught [Music]
Channel: How the Universe Works
Views: 856,457
Rating: 4.4797893 out of 5
Keywords: How the Universe Works, Space, Space Discovery Documentary, the universe, space documentary, national geographic, solar system, Big Bang, Alien Stom, Black Hole, Alien Planets
Id: vlp4INgjaAs
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Length: 49min 13sec (2953 seconds)
Published: Sat Jun 15 2019
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