We are in the thick of a revolution in our understanding of our place in the Universe. The physical and chemical underpinnings of our biology are now understood. Every planet in our solar system has been visited (if briefly), and our robotic explorers are roving and orbiting our planetary neighbors. In the last twenty five years, we have gone from 9 planets around our Sun to thousands of planets in our Galaxy, including several that may have liquid water on their surface. We are building the next generation of telescopes on the ground and in space that will provide a census of Earth-like planets, the first spectra of extra-solar planets, and a survey of emission signatures of possible alien technological civilizations from gamma-rays to radio waves.
In this context, the "Fermi paradox" takes on particular resonance. Where is everyone? Are we alone? If so, what does that mean for our future? Or are we on the verge of discovering a Galaxy teeming with life?
- Scales and Measurement: Distances · Timescales · Wavelengths · Spectra · Doppler shifts.
- Origins: The Big Bang · The Cosmic Web · The Nature of the Universe · Olber's paradox.
- Origins: Galaxies · Angular Momentum and Disks.
- Origins: Star Formation and Evolution · Stellar Death, Supernovae, and Stellar Remnants.
- Origins: Protoplanetary disks · Planet Formation.
- Our Solar System: Structure · Impacts · Comets · Asteroids.
- Our Solar System: Habitable Zones · Life on Earth · Why Water?
- Life on Earth: When? · How? · Where else?
- Our Solar System: Mars · Underground Oceans: Europa and Enceladus · Titan.
- Extrasolar Planets: Detection methods · Census · Earth-like Planets.
- Extrasolar Planets: Characterizing Exoplanets · Habitability.
- Intelligent Life: The Drake Equation · The Fermi Paradox · The Copernican Principle.
- Intelligent Life: Searching for Extraterrestrial Civilizations · False Alarms.
- Intelligent Life: The Great Filter · The Future of Human Civilization.
- Goldsmith & Owen, The Search for Life in the Universe.
- Ward & Brownlee, Rare Earth.
- Professor Yervant Terzian + Guest Lecturers
- Class meets: M-W 2:55-4:10 PM, SS 511.
- Office hours by appointment after class.
Lecture notes will be posted here as PDF files — please check regularly.
- 11 Nov: Studying Extrasolar planets (Chatterjee)
- 09 Nov: Extrasolar planets: Statistics and Habitability (Chatterjee)
- 07 Oct: Titan_and_Europa (Lunine)
- 30 Sep: Solar system: Debris, Moon, Impacts and Evolution (Cordes)
- 28 Sep: Astrobiology (Lunine)
- 23 Sep: Solar system: Formation, Disks, Jets, and Magnetic Fields (Cordes)
- 31 Aug: Measuring the Universe; the Distance Ladder (Chatterjee)
Goldsmith & Owen (all)
Ward & Brownlee (all).
- Chapman & Morrison 1994, Impacts on the Earth by asteroids and comets: assessing the hazard, Nature, 367, 33. (PDF version).
- Winn & Fabrycky, The Occurrence and Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems, Annual Reviews 2015. (PDF version).