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Other Planetary Systems. Over 130 extrasolar planets have been discovered since 1995 The Extrasolar Planet Encyclopedia. Stars are too far away from the Sun, and direct imaging cannot detect planets near them

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Other Planetary Systems

Over 130 extrasolar planets have been discovered since 1995 The Extrasolar Planet Encyclopedia

Stars are too far away from the Sun, and direct imaging cannot detect planets near them

Current strategy involves watching for the small gravitational tag the planet exerts on its star

The tag can be detected using the Doppler effect

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The Nature of Extrasolar Planets

The discovery of extrasolar planets gives us an opportunity to test the solar system formation theory

Most of the discovered planets are different from those of our system

They are mostly Jupiter-size and located closer to their stars

But: possible planet migration

discovered planets are exceptions

The Kepler Project will look for terrestrial planets around other stars

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NASC 1100

Our Physical World

The Course Overview

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Methodology of Science (lecture 1)

Overview of our place in the Universe (lecture 2)

Physics (August 27  October 1)

Chemistry (October 4  October 22)

Earth Science (October 27  November 12)

Astronomy (November 15  December 8)

The Course Summary (December 10)

Final Exam (December 16)

Course structure

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The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method is a general scheme for looking at the Universe

The 4 major steps of the scientific method

  • Formulating a problem

  • Observation and Experiment

  • Interpreting the Data

  • Testing the Interpretation by further Observation and Experiment

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Main Laws of Physics

Newton’s Laws

Kepler’s Laws

Conservation of Energy

Conservation of Momentum (+angular momentum)

Coulomb’s Law

Ohm’s Law

Laws of Ideal Gas

The Doppler Effect (types of waves)

Electromagnetic Waves (spectral regions)

Energy is directly proportional to frequency

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Atomic Physics

Models of Atom (Rutherford, Bohr)

Chemical Elements (isotopes)

Concept of Binding Energy

Fusion and Fission

Elementary Particles

The Periodic Law

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Inorganic Chemistry

Elements, Mixtures, and Compounds

Chemical Bonds (covalent, polar covalent, ionic)

Electronic Shells (open and closed)

States of Matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma)

Crystalline and Amorphous substances

Electron “gas” in metals

Van der Waals forces

Solutions (saturated and unsaturated)

Liquids (polar and nonpolar)

Dissociation (acids, bases, salts, pH scale)

Chemical Energy (electron potential energy)

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Organic Chemistry

Carbon bonds

Alkanes (organic compounds containing C and H)


Structural Formulas (H  C  C  H)

Saturated and Unsaturated hydrocarbons

Functional Groups (hydroxyl, carbonyl, carboxyl)

Monomers and Polymers

Carbohydrates, Lipids, Amino Acids

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Earth Sciences

Atmosphere and Hydrosphere

Atmospheric composition (N, O, CO2, noble gases)

Clouds (saturated and unsaturated air)

Winds (Coriolis Force)

Weather Systems (cyclones and anticyclones)


Ocean Currents

Rocks (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic)

Rock Cycle, Minerals

Earth’s structure

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Solar System



The Universe

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The Solar System

Creation from one molecular cloud

Central star (the Sun)

Two families of planets (terrestrial and Jovian)

Small objects -asteroids (rocky leftovers) andcomets (icy leftovers)

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Objects that emit radiation in whose interiors at some point fusion reactions H -> He takes place .

Masses: 0.08 - ~100 Msun.

Lifetimes: few million - few billion years

Low-mass, intermediate-mass, and high-mass stars.

The Hertzsprung - Russell diagram.

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Galaxies and Universe

Huge stellar systems (up to 1 trillion stars)

Spiral, elliptical, and irregular galaxies

Hubble’s Law - universal expansion

Quasars - early galaxies with extremely luminous nuclei (perhaps, due to supermassive black holes)

Dark matter  invisible mass that explains galactic rotation laws and formation of galaxies

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The Universe

The Big Bang theory  the theory of the universe’s earliest moments.

It predicted the cosmic microwave background (radiation from the moment when the Universe became transparent for photons, T = 2.7 K)

and the proportion of the primordial He to H (~1/3).

Age of the Universe is approximately the inverse Hubble constant (~14 billion years)

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Sample Questions for the Final Exam

Definition questions:

What is a scientific theory?

Types of mechanical waves

How does the force of gravity depends on the distance between the objects?

What is chemical energy?

What are igneous rocks?

What is weight?

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What Happens to Saturated Air if

… it cools?

Saturated air cannot take more moisture.

At higher temperatures air can get more moisture.

Thus, if saturated air cools, water has to condense out.

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Stellar Luminosity

Luminosity is the total amount of power the star radiates into space.

It is measured in power units (Watts).

Brightness of a star in the sky depends on the distance towards a star and its luminosity.

The apparent brightness is the amount of light reaching us per unit area.

Apparent brightness obeys an inverse square law with distance.