The search for Earth-like planets explained
The search for Earth-like planets explained
5:11

The search for Earth-like planets explained

Tech Industry
-So, as you may notice, it's a little dark outside. It's supposed to be that way 'cause I'm here at the Berkeley campus and I'm gonna go looking for Earth-like planets. Now, I'm just waiting for him to get here. -Kudos, let's go inside. -Okay. -And here's the Remote Observing facility itself. This is Keck I and Keck II. These telescopes are located up high atop a hopefully dormant volcano called Mauna Kea at 14,000 feet. Well, some would say they are the world's best telescopes. You can see pictures of them here. Keck I and Keck II. These telescopes have a mirror that collects the light from the stars and galaxies, and the mirror is 10 meters in diameter. That's 1-tenth the size of a football field, and these mirrors are polished smooth to a parabolic shape to within 1 fraction of a wavelength of light. So, they're enormous mirrors practically the size of football fields. They're polished smooth to collect the light, bring it to a focus. And then what we do is we bring that light not to an eyepiece, but instead, we send the light into a spectrometer, which is a fancy word for prism. And the spectrometer spreads the white light of the star into all of its colors, blue, green, yellow, and red, and we can analyze those wavelengths of light, the colors of the rainbow to measure various properties of the stars. The most important thing is to try to detect planets. We're trying to find small Earth-size planets around nearby stars, stars that are within a few tens of light years of the Earth. And we're also studying stars that have been studied by the Kepler telescope, which is a space-borne telescope and its job is specifically to find Earth-size planets that dim their stars as the Earth cross in front blocking the starlight time and again and again. And so, we're studying the stars that the Kepler telescope has already indicated to us probably have planets. We're trying to verify if they have planets and measure the masses to see if they are truly Earth-size planets, but we found planets. In 1995, a wonderful astronomer in Geneva, Michel Mayor, found the first planet around the star, 51 Pegasi, and then our team found a lot of planets and ever since then, we found hundreds of planets. It's really been just an incredible change for Science, maybe you might even say a change in the way humans view ourselves and our place in the universe because we now know that our Earth and our solar system that goes around the Sun is not unique; there are other planetary systems out there; in fact, billions of them. And so, one of the things we are trying to do is find other Earth-like planets. This is Barnard's Star. This star is the second closest star to us here at the Earth. There's the Sun; there's Alpha Centauri and its system, and then Barnard's Star. So this is an extraordinary star. It's only-- I forgotten now exactly-- It's something like 5 or 6 light years away. You could almost throw a stone. You could pop over to Barnard's Star and borrow a cup of sugar assuming you didn't need the sugar for 700,000 years. The coordinates, the telescopes pointed there now. There's the star right there. The white dot is the star. And see a little black stripe right down the middle of the star? That's the entrance slit of the spectrometer into which the light is passing. And so the light goes into that slit and goes into the spectrometer where the white light gets spread out into all of its colors, blue, green, yellow and red and we analyze them. And that's what shows up over here. This is the actual spectrum and you can kind of see, while you can't really see the colors, but this is sort of a black and blue, white version of the rainbow of colors, and we're monitoring how much light comes from the star at each color, then we analyze that to measure the Doppler effect and the Doppler effect, if it changes with the star, that tells us that it has a planet. -When he was a graduate student, he asked this bold question. Can we find other planets that go around other Suns? He's actually found more than 70 of these extrasolar planets. -And a wonderful privilege and a lucky ride because we thought we wouldn't find any planets. And I thought for many years we would never find any planets and most other people thought we would never find any planets; so, I feel, you know, really lucky that we've been able to find lots of planets, big ones like Jupiter and small ones like nearly the size of the Earth. -I just got down searching for Earth-like planets, and it was super awesome. It puts our place in the universe into perspective.

Up Next

Apple and Disney's Unique Bond: Why Vision Pro Needs the Mouse
240411-site-can-disney-save-the-apple-vision-pro-v1

Up Next

Apple and Disney's Unique Bond: Why Vision Pro Needs the Mouse

The Ocean Cleanup's System 03 Collects Plastic Pollution at Record Levels
The Ocean Cleanup System 03

The Ocean Cleanup's System 03 Collects Plastic Pollution at Record Levels

Latest iOS 18 Rumor Roundup: New Designs, AI Tricks
240404-yt-omt-ios-18-siri-ai-v06

Latest iOS 18 Rumor Roundup: New Designs, AI Tricks

Apple to Talk AI in June: This WWDC Is a Big Deal
240328-yt-omt-wwdc24-v07

Apple to Talk AI in June: This WWDC Is a Big Deal

What Google Gemini AI on the iPhone Could Look Like
240321-site-apple-and-gemini-ai

What Google Gemini AI on the iPhone Could Look Like

Microsoft Surface Pro 10, Surface Laptop 6 Are Here
240320-site-microsoft-surface-pros-first-look-v2

Microsoft Surface Pro 10, Surface Laptop 6 Are Here

Everything Just Announced at Google's AI Health Event
sc-googlehealthai-00-02-29-25-still001

Everything Just Announced at Google's AI Health Event

Everything Just Revealed at Nvidia's GTC AI Conference
nvidiastill

Everything Just Revealed at Nvidia's GTC AI Conference

Nvidia Reveals Omniverse Cloud Streams to the Vision Pro
nvidia-vision-pro-image

Nvidia Reveals Omniverse Cloud Streams to the Vision Pro

Nvidia Shows Project GROOT and Disney Bots at GTC Conference
robot-2

Nvidia Shows Project GROOT and Disney Bots at GTC Conference

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core-w

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city-w

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
cnet-top-5-w

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
dc-site-1color-logo.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future-w

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today-w

Tech Today

Latest News All latest news

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch
iphone-15-pro-max-7-months-later

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling
cnet-audiq6

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling

Apple and Disney's Unique Bond: Why Vision Pro Needs the Mouse
240411-site-can-disney-save-the-apple-vision-pro-v1

Apple and Disney's Unique Bond: Why Vision Pro Needs the Mouse

Sony ULT Wear Headphones Review: Evolution of Extra Bass
site-sonyultheadphone-v3

Sony ULT Wear Headphones Review: Evolution of Extra Bass

Humane's AI Pin: Unboxed and Tested
240409-site-humane-ai-pin-review-v2

Humane's AI Pin: Unboxed and Tested

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used
240404-yt-xiaomi-14-ultra-camera-for-pro-v08

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used

Most Popular All most popular

First Look at TSA's Self-Screening Tech (in VR!)
innovation

First Look at TSA's Self-Screening Tech (in VR!)

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: More AI at a Higher Cost
240123-site-samsung-galaxy-s24-ultra-review-4

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: More AI at a Higher Cost

'Circle to Search' Lets Users Google From Any Screen
circlesearchpic

'Circle to Search' Lets Users Google From Any Screen

Asus Put Two 14-inch OLEDs in a Laptop, Unleashes First OLED ROG Gaming Laptop
asus-preces-00-00-25-11-still003

Asus Put Two 14-inch OLEDs in a Laptop, Unleashes First OLED ROG Gaming Laptop

Samsung Galaxy Ring: First Impressions
samsung-galaxy-ring-clean

Samsung Galaxy Ring: First Impressions

Best of Show: The Coolest Gadgets of CES 2024
240111-site-best-of-ces-2024-1

Best of Show: The Coolest Gadgets of CES 2024

Latest Products All latest products

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling
cnet-audiq6

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling

Hands-On with Ford's Free Tesla Charging Adapter
pic3

Hands-On with Ford's Free Tesla Charging Adapter

Nuro R3 is an Adorable Self-Driving Snack Bar
240320-site-nuro-r3-first-look-v1

Nuro R3 is an Adorable Self-Driving Snack Bar

First Look: The $349 Nothing Phone 2A Aims to Brighten Your Day
240304-site-nothing-phone-2-first-look-v3

First Look: The $349 Nothing Phone 2A Aims to Brighten Your Day

Best of MWC 2024: Bendable Screens, AI Wearables and More
240229-site-best-of-show-at-mwc

Best of MWC 2024: Bendable Screens, AI Wearables and More

This Concept Laptop from Lenovo Has a Transparent Display
240225-site-lenovo-translucent-laptop-concept-v3

This Concept Laptop from Lenovo Has a Transparent Display

Latest How To All how to videos

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse Safely From Your Phone
screenshot-2024-04-03-at-15-47-11.png

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse Safely From Your Phone

Windows 11 Tips and Hidden Features
240311-site-windows-11-hidden-tips-and-tricks-v2

Windows 11 Tips and Hidden Features

Vision Pro App Walkthrough -- VisionOS 1.0.3
VisionOS 1.0.3

Vision Pro App Walkthrough -- VisionOS 1.0.3

Tips and Tricks for the Galaxy S24 Ultra
240216-site-galaxy-s24-ultra-tips-and-hidden-features-2

Tips and Tricks for the Galaxy S24 Ultra

TikTok Is Now on the Apple Vision Pro
tiktok-on-vision-pro-clean

TikTok Is Now on the Apple Vision Pro

Get Your TV Ready for the Big Game: Super Bowl Setup Tips
superbowl-tv-settings-thumb1

Get Your TV Ready for the Big Game: Super Bowl Setup Tips