A Crowded SkyAurelius Robles6/12/14 11:48pmFiled to: Exoplanets26EditPromoteShare to KinjaGo to permalinkIt was the first world, other than Earth and the Moon, I ever saw. I knew nothing of the other planets in the Solar System, was completely unaware of their moons. I was five years old, and the idea of a universe filled with other worlds transfixed me. I wanted to visit Tatooine, visit Yavin IV. Star Wars had completely mesmerized me, made me fall in love with space.AdvertisementA few months later, I found Star Trek: The Next Generation.Week after week, I watched humans — actual humans from Earth — visit planet after planet, meeting alien races. Star Trek introduced me to Mars, to Jupiter and Saturn. I began devouring space books. I learned about the barren Mercury, the Venusian inferno, the Martian desert, the gas giants. I learned about icy Pluto, the Solar System's seemingly lone sentinel against the ocean of interstellar space. AdvertisementI also learned that they were the only planets that humans knew of. In real life, there was no Tatooine orbiting two suns. No Vulcan only sixteen light-years away. No Qo'nos or Romulus. None of the countless stars of the universe had planets. In the past, scientists such as Giordano Bruno and Isaac Newton postulated that the stars had planets, but there was no proof.By 1992, I grew disillusioned with space. There was just nothing else worth learning. There were just nine planets and a bunch of icy and rocky moons, all alone in the universe. Little did I realize that same year, astronomers made a discovery that changed the field forever.It was January 9, 1992. Pole Aleksander Wolszczan and Canadian Dale Frail discovered two planets orbiting a pulsar, PSR 1257+12. It was a momentous find; until that fateful day, scientists had only believed planets were possible around stars on their main sequence, like the Sun. The discovery forced astronomers to rethink their preconceptions, to look at all categories of stars. Two years later, a third planet was discovered in the system. The planets were believed to have been formed by secondary planet formation, the result of a supernova remnant or quark nova. But this was only the beginning. On October 6, 1995, the Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz discovered a gas giant orbiting in a close orbit around 51 Pegasi, 50 light-years from Earth. It was the first time a planet had been discovered around a Sun-like star. The gas giant was the first "hot Jupiter" detected by astronomers, but far from the last.