Infinite Worlds : An Illustrated Voyage to Planets beyond Our Sun
Merely a decade ago there were no known planets orbiting sunlike stars outside our own solar system. In the past ten years, however, fast-paced developments in astronomy have revealed over 140 extrasolar planets--with more discoveries surely on the way. Though it will be years before we have direct images of these far-flung worlds, this lavishly illustrated book gives us an idea of what they might look like. A fascinating exploration of the cosmos written for a wide audience, Infinite Worlds brings together Lynette Cook's internationally renowned astronomical artwork, the latest and most dramatic images from the world's top observatories, and up-to-the-minute scientific findings on subjects ranging from the big bang and stellar evolution to a possible universe filled with countless planets and life forms. The newly discovered planets are boggling astronomers' minds with their bizarre characteristics, including an unimagined diversity of sizes and orbits. In Lynette Cook's scientifically based illustrations--many newly created for this book--we glimpse the landscapes and atmospheres that might adorn these planets. Ray Villard's text elegantly describes the state of astronomy today, imagines where it will take us in the coming years, ponders the chances of success for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and explores the survivability of life in an evolving and accelerating universe.