Astronomy 3301 - (un)discovered worlds


This course will explore the new field of extrasolar planet search and life as a planetary phenomenon.

Thousands of planets around other stars have been discovered over the past two decades, and many more discoveries are sure to come.  How are these discoveries made and what are the properties of these exoplanets and their systems?  How exotic can we expect exoplanets to be?  Is our solar system a typical planetary system or something unusual?  How common are planets like Earth?  How could we determine whether exoplanets can host life, or do host life?  These and other issues related to planetary formation and evolution will be discussed.

By using current news, scientific articles and in depth discussion, this course will teach the core concepts needed to explore whether there could be life on other planets, with a strong interdisciplinary component.

At the end we will use one class to discuss science of other worlds in SF movies and explore them using the physics studied in the course

L.Kaltenegger & J.Lunine

Interesting Planets

Corot 7b, Kepler 10b

Lava Worlds

Volcano Worlds

Earth-like planets

Useful links