• Words Robert Ito
  • Photography Valerie Chiang

On the hunt for another world.

  • Words Robert Ito
  • Photography Valerie Chiang

Sara Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT, has been searching for worlds beyond our own solar system for decades. Dubbed exoplanets, these heavenly bodies had been something of a mystery within the scientific community, right up until the time Swiss astronomers discovered one of them, the enormous 51 Pegasi b, in 1995. Exoplanets are among the most exciting finds in astronomy—many would argue they’re the most exciting—because they offer the promise of life on other planets. Black holes and supernovas are swell in their own way, of course, but the long-held dream of astronomers, poets and sci-fi fans alike has been to find proof that we humans are not alone in the cosmos.

When Seager first began studying exoplanets, many wondered if they even existed. Because st...


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