On February 13, 2011, the Boston Museum of Science will officially unveil New England’s most technologically advanced digital theater with the world premiere of "Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun." For the inaugural show of its newly transformed Charles Hayden Planetarium, the Museum explores a timeless question in an exploding field: Do other planets like Earth exist?
Our knowledge of alien worlds has advanced by leaps and bounds since the discovery of the first exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star in 1995. Today, more than 500 planets are confirmed, and NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has identified another 1,235 planetary candidates. CfA researchers are actively involved in the Kepler mission and in exoplanet discovery and characterization.
The resulting data has been folded into a visually stunning planetarium show that takes viewers on a journey to some of the most exotic worlds known. Destinations include HD 209458b, a "hot Jupiter" whose atmosphere is boiling away, and Corot 7b, a seething lava world. Viewers also learn how challenging it is to find exoplanets, and which methods have proven most successful.
The audience is introduced to CfA astronomers David Charbonneau and Lisa Kaltenegger, who voice the excitement involved with finding and studying alien worlds. Charbonneau tells the audience, "For thousands of years humans have wondered whether there was life beyond the solar system. For the first time in human history we have the technological capability to answer that question."
More information is available at the Museum of Science website.