'Nova' series tells the story of the universe from its inception to trillions of years into the future

·5 min read

Oct. 24—Chris Schmidt is no stranger to making films about science and space.

He's made a career out of it.

"I've filmed several times at the nuclear museum and Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque," he says.

Schmidt is the co-executive producer on the five-part series, "Nova" presents "Universe Revealed," which begins broadcasting at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27. The series runs at the same time on Wednesdays through Nov. 24.

The series is a sequel to and expansion on "Nova's" 2019 series "The Planets."

Schmidt says the series uses CGI imagery, the latest scientific research, and archival footage captured during scientific missions to immerse viewers in the expansive and dramatic story of the universe, from its moment of inception 13.8 billion years ago, to what could be its ultimate fate, trillions upon trillions of years in the future.

"We've all been born into this dramatic and ever-unfolding story of the universe, which has been playing out since the beginning of time," Schmidt says. "This highly entertaining series aims to answer some of the many questions around the ideas of time and space that we curious beings have long pondered. It's also a celebration of the incredible power that human beings have to ask questions and find answers, using nothing more than imagination and scientific exploration."

In this series, "Nova" delves into the vastness of space to capture the powerful moments when the universe changed forever. State-of-the-art animation delivers astonishing, photorealistic glimpses of the birth of the very first star, the chaos created as two galaxies collide, and the power of a supermassive black hole as it flings a star across space so violently that it's still traveling millions of years later.

"We haven't gone anywhere and now we're trying to tell the story of stars, galaxies, alien planets and black holes," he says. "Without having physically venturing anywhere, we're able to tell the stories. It's because of the imaginations of the scientists that they take a piece of the evidence and they verify that through experiments and start to build the story."

"Nova" even takes viewers back in time to witness the birth of space and time itself.

"This series is hugely ambitious in its scale. It allows us to roam through time and space uncovering exquisite moments of sheer drama that changed the universe forever," says Andrew Cohen, BBC executive producer. "Extraordinary events laid the way for our own arrival on this tiny planet that orbits just one star of the trillions of stars that make up the visible universe."

'Nova' presents 'Universe Revealed'

The five one-hour episodes are as follows:

Oct. 27 — "Age of Stars" — The sun is a constant presence in our lives and has been a life-giving source of light, heat, and energy for 4.6 billion years. Yet we've only recently begun to unravel its epic history and discover its place among an even grander cycle of birth, death and renewal that makes this the age of stars. To piece together this stellar saga, "Nova" explores new clues from the Hubble Space Telescope and a heat-resistant solar probe that's designed to fly as close to the sun's million-degree atmosphere as possible.

Nov. 3 — "Milky Way" — The Milky Way, an ethereal city of stars straddling the night sky, is a constant reminder of our place in the galaxy we call home. It's so vast that even traveling at the speed of light, it would take about 100,000 years to cross it. But what shaped this giant spiral of stars, gas and dust, and what will be its destiny? "Nova" explores the wonders of galactic archaeology revealed by Gaia, a spacecraft that's creating a precise 3D map and measuring the motions of over a billion stars in our galaxy. The results are unlocking the turbulent history of our cosmic neighborhood, from its birth in a whirling disk of clouds and dust to colossal collisions with other galaxies.

Nov. 10 — "Alien Worlds" — For nearly as long as humans have gazed up at the night sky, we've wondered whether other life forms and intelligences could be thriving on worlds far beyond our own. Answering that question seemed forever fated to remain pure speculation. But over the last few decades, ultra-sensitive telescopes and dogged detective work have transformed alien planet-hunting from science fiction into hard fact. "Nova" tells the story of how the first breakthrough discoveries of exoplanets — planets orbiting other stars — were made. Then "Nova" reveals the most tantalizing discovery of all: the super-Earths, situated in the "Goldilocks zone," just the right distance from their sun where life might be supportable, and with one of them signaling life's essential ingredient, water, in its atmosphere.

Nov. 17 — "Black Holes" — Black holes have long challenged the best minds in science and gripped the popular imagination. The most powerful and enigmatic objects known, they can reshape entire galaxies, warp the fabric of space and time, and may even be the key to unlocking the ultimate nature of reality. Yet if we can't see them, how can we investigate them? "Black Holes" tells the story of how a new generation of high-energy telescopes is bringing these invisible voids to light — notably, the discovery that supermassive black holes millions or even billions of times larger than our sun lurk at the center of nearly every galaxy, including our own.

Nov. 24 — "Big Bang" — Many think that the Big Bang is when the universe started and time itself began. But what clues can we discover about this ultimate genesis of everything? And can we ever know what existed before the universe's birthday? In "Big Bang," "Nova" winds back the ages with the help of animation based on stunning images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Meet infant galaxies like GN-z11, a mere fraction of the size of our Milky Way but filled with vast and violent blue stars that formed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. Before that — before the coming of visible light itself — stretches the "cosmic Dark Ages," when the only direct clues are ripples in the radiation picked up by the Planck space telescope.

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