Astronomy 221: Stars and Planets

Astronomy 221: Stars and Planets

Instructor: Heather Morrison,, Sears 558, phone 368 6698

Admininistrative stuff: grading scheme, textbook

Class calendar:

Last in-class test on Mon Nov 24. Covers material from Binary stars to white dwarfs.

Problem Set 1: due 5pm, Friday Sept 5


Problem Set 2: due 5pm, Friday Sept 19.

Problem Set 3: due 5pm, Friday Oct 3.

Problem Set 4: due 5pm, Friday Oct 17.

Fall Break Oct 27, 28

Problem Set 5: due 5pm, Friday Nov 7.


Problem Set 6: due 5pm, Friday Nov 21.


Problem Set 7: due 5pm, Fri Dec 5


Final Dec 16, 8:30am

Course Outline:


Overview of the Formation of the Solar System
How did it happen? What constraints do we have?

Notes: Formation of the Solar System   (Notes as .pptx)

Physical Processes: Gravity.

Kepler and Newton's Laws. Orbits. Energy and escape velocity

Applets illustrating Kepler's laws

Notes: Physics governing orbits

Meteorites and Asteroids: orbits.

Minor planet center animations

Notes: orbits of bodies in the solar system

Physical Processes: Radiation Pressure.

Comets, Meteorites and Asteroids: Composition, dating, origins. Oort cloud and Kuiper belt.

Notes: properties of comets

Halley's comet from Giotto spacecraft

Notes: properties of asteroids and meteorites   (Notes as .pptx)

Physical Processes: Collisions and Giant Impacts

Notes: Collisions in the solar system   (Notes as .pptx)

Planetismal hypothesis revisited

Notes: Structure and surface of Mercury  (Notes as .pptx)

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter movie of the rotation of the Moon

Notes: Moon structure and its formation via a giant impact   (Notes as .pptx)

LRO movie of the evolution of the Moon after its formation

Physical Processes: Tidal Forces

Tides and tidal evolution: Earth/Moon system and evolution, Mars' moons, Io. Mercury's spin-orbit coupling.
The Roche limit: Giant planet rings and moons.

Notes: tides and tidal evolution

Notes: moons and rings

Physical Processes: Gravity vs Pressure.

Properties and interiors of the giant planets

Notes: the giant planets

Atmospheric equilibrium, scale height of atmospheres

Notes: Hydrostatic equilibrium and scale heights of atmospheres

Interiors of terrestrial planets. Heat budgets. The Earth: internal structure, temperature and pressure, plate tectonics and seismology.

Notes: the Earth and its plate tectonics

Tectonics on other terrestrial planets

Notes: Heat budgets for planets

Physical processes: atmospheres

Where do atmospheres come from? giant vs terrestrial planets

Notes: How do planets lose atmospheres? Origin of Earth's atmosphere

Greenhouse effect (notes from Prof Mihos)

Notes: Winds and weather


Notes: Measuring distances to stars

Notes: Proper motions

Physical Processes: Blackbody Radiation

Reading: Kutner Ch 2

Notes: Measuring brightness and color for stars

Notes: absolute magnitude

Reading: Kutner Ch 3

Notes: Classifying stellar spectra

Notes: The HR diagram: temperature vs luminosity

Visual binary movie (from Rock Pogge OSU)
Notes: Stars - measuring mass and size. Binary stars.
Spectroscopic binary movie (from Rock Pogge OSU)
Eclipsing binary movie (from Rock Pogge OSU)

Physical Processes: Balancing gravity with energy output

Notes: The Sun -- nuclear fusion reactions

Notes: The Sun -- structure and radiative transfer

Notes: The interstellar medium and star formation

Notes: Stellar evolution for low mass stars, white dwarfs

Notes: Evolution for high-mass stars

Notes: Supernovae and neutron stars

See also the description of a core-collapse supernova in Carroll and Ostlie pp530-534.