A few decades ago, we knew of no other planets beyond those in our solar system. Today, astronomers have confirmed over 700 planets circling other suns and believe billions more lay undiscovered. These new worlds have smashed conventional assumptions, revealing planets orbiting multiple stars, planets that don’t orbit stars at all, and at least one as airy as Styrofoam. The incredible boom in planetary diversity raises tantalizing prospects for an Earth analog that could harbor life—as we know it, and as we never imagined it.
This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.