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Artist's depiction of an exoplanetary system, SSC Astronomy 141:
Life in the Universe
Prof. Richard Pogge, MTWThF 12:30

Unit 5: Life in the Universe

We now turn out attention to the possibilities for life elsewhere in the universe. We begin with a review of the properties of stars, their formation, lives, and deaths, and assess their habitability by analogy with the habitable zone around our Sun. We will then describe the discoveries of planets around other stars. In the past decade more than hundreds of planets have been discovered around other stars, mostly gas giants, but we are steadily closing in on Earth-sized planets, some perhaps in the habitable zones of their parent stars. We will describe the search techniques, and the on-going quest to find analogs of our Earth. The section ends with a look at the possibilities for intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, including discussion of the Drake Equation, the Fermi Paradox, SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), the problems of interstellar travel and colonization, and the possible nature of extraterrestrial life.


The lecture notes below are all in PDF format, and are usually usually 1-2Mb in size depending on the graphics content. Audio files are in MP3 format, and are usually around 20Mb in size.
Part I: Life Beyond The Solar System

The Properties of Stars (Feb 20) - [Audio]

Meet the Neighbors (Feb 21) - [Audio]

The Lives of Stars (Feb 22) - [Audio]

Habitable Zones around Stars (Feb 23) - [Audio]

Exoplanets: Planets Around Other Stars (Feb 24) - [Audio]

Strange New Worlds: The Properties of Exoplanets (Feb 27) - [Audio]

The Pale Blue Dot (Feb 28) - [Audio]

Intelligent Life in the Universe (Feb 29) - [Audio]

The Drake Equation (Mar 1) - [Audio]

Quiz 4 - In class Friday March 2 [Study Guide]

Part II: Are We Alone?

SETI: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Mar 5) - [Audio]

Interstellar Travel and Colonization (Mar 6) - [Audio]

The Fermi Paradox (Mar 7) - [Audio]

Extraterrestrial Life (Mar 8) - [Audio]

Course Summary: This View of Life (Mar 9) - [Audio]

Lectures will be posted on the morning before class, or earlier if I get ahead of things. Please also see A Note about Graphics to learn why some of the graphics shown in the lectures are not reproduced in these notes.

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Updated: 2012 March 9
Copyright © Richard W. Pogge, All Rights Reserved.