Exploring the mysteries of exoplanets – planets around other stars.
Please note that this course is self-paced and you can enroll at any time.
The course itself is 9 weeks long and certificates are generated and distributed to learners who meet the 50% requirement every 3 months. The next scheduled dates for certificates to be released are 1st December 2014 and 1st March 2015. The course will run again as a scheduled course in mid 2015.
The discovery of exoplanets is one of the greatest revolutions in modern astrophysics. Twenty years ago, we had no idea whether any of the countless stars out there beyond our solar system had planets or not. Today, things are totally different. Over one thousand planetary systems have been discovered. The universe is teeming with planets. And what strange planets they are – hot Jupiter-like planets skimming the surfaces of their stars, cold and lonely free-floating planets far from any star, planets made of diamond, planets with rain made of glass, super-Earths and even planets orbiting neutron stars. In this course we’ll bring you up-to-date with the latest research on exoplanets, and how it has revolutionised our understanding of the formation of solar systems like our own. This course is designed for people who would like to get a deeper understanding of these mysteries than that offered by popular science articles and shows. You will need reasonable high-school level Maths and Physics to get the most out of this course. This is the second of four ANUx courses which together make up The Australian National University’s first year astrophysics program. It follows on from the introductory course on the Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe. It is not necessary to have done the introductory course first: all necessary background material is repeated here. It will be followed by courses on the violent universe and on cosmology.
Brian Schmidt led the team that discovered dark energy – work which won him the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics. He is a Laureate Fellow and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University. Raised in Montana and Alaska, USA, he obtained a PhD from Harvard before coming to Australia, where his passions include astrophysics and his vineyard in the hills near Canberra. Brian has won almost every possible award and distinction for his work – work that has revolutionised our understanding of the origin and fate of our universe. He is continuing his work using exploding stars to study the Universe, and is leading Australian National University’s effort to build the SkyMapper telescope, a new facility that will provide a comprehensive digital map of the southern sky from ultraviolet through near infrared wavelengths.
Paul Francis is a prize-winning educator, science communicator and astrophysics researcher. He obtained a PhD from the University of Cambridge, has worked with NASA, and is well known for his work on the spectra of quasars. Famous for his unorthodox teaching style, his strange taste in waistcoats and for his discovery that some black holes are actually pink, he divides his time between astrophysics research and teaching. His research interests include comets, giant space blobs and hidden quasars. He has won many awards for both teaching and science communication. He is currently trying to work out why the tails of distant comets don’t point the direction they should.
High school maths and physics.