Understanding the Universe

Category: Astronomy
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Join astronomers and astrophysicists as they probe light years beyond the Milky Way, in Understanding The Universe, part of Discovery's popular television series.

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Nightmares of Neutron Stars

Neutron stars are strange and violent phenomena that defy the laws of physics, and new discoveries reveal that these bizarre nightmares are far more deadly than previously believed, with the power to destroy planets and even other stars.

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Jupiter

Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. The gas giant is NOT a failed star, but a really successful planet! It has a dynamic atmosphere with belts and zones, as well as an enormous red spot that’s actually a persistent hurricane. Jupiter is still warm from its formation, and has an interior that’s mostly metallic hydrogen, and it may not even have a core.

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The Trouble with Space Junk

In 2014, the International Space Station had to move three times to avoid lethal chunks of space debris and there is an increasing problem of satellites mysteriously breaking down. With first-hand accounts from astronauts and experts, Horizon reveals the scale of the problem of space junk. Our planet is surrounded by hundreds of millions of pieces of junk moving at 17,000 miles per hour. Now the US government is investing a billion dollars to track them, and companies around the world are developing ways to clear up their mess - from robot arms to nets and harpoons. Horizon investigates the science behind the hit film Gravity and discovers the reality is far more worrying than the Hollywood fiction.

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Exoplanets

Today Phil explains that YES, there are other planets out there and astonomers have a lot of methods for detecting them. Nearly 2000 have been found so far. The most successful method is using transits, where a planet physically passes in front of its parent star, producing a measurable dip in the star’s light. Another is to measuring the Doppler shift in a star’s light due to reflexive motion as the planet orbits. Exoplanets appear to orbit nearly every kind of star, and we’ve even found planets that are the same size as Earth. We think there may be many billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy.

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Is Anyone Out There?

Travel to the farthest reaches of the universe, as this exploratory space documentary series asks 'is anyone out there'?

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Our Inner Circles of Hell

The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, orbit closest to the Sun, making them literally an Inferno of heat. NASA and other space agencies have attempted to learn more about these rocky planets. Follow the plucky probes that attempted to decipher the secrets of the Solar System's inner circles of hell.

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