Alien Worlds: The Science of Exoplanet Discovery and Characterization - Boston UniversityedX
What you'll learn on the course
Have you ever wondered about planets in other solar systems? Have you ever thought about the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe? For the first time in human history, we know that planets around other stars not only exist, but are common! Alien Worlds focuses on the search and characterization of planets orbiting other stars (called extrasolar planets or “exoplanets”). Over the course of nine modules, we will learn some of the techniques used to discover the thousands of known exoplanets and will discuss how we can use basic scientific tools to characterize the sizes, masses, compositions, and atmospheres of exoplanets. We will also learn about the diversity of stars in the Galaxy to understand how stellar properties affect exoplanet detection techniques and influence planetary formation and habitability. In addition to the exploration of exoplanets, students in Alien Worlds will gain a basic understanding of light, gravity and motion, and be introduced to some of the most extreme life on planet Earth. We will hear from experts at the forefront of exoplanet science and interact with other participants and instructors through social media and online tools. Students will leave Alien Worlds with a better understanding of their place in the Universe and the skills to comprehend the wealth of new discoveries surrounding the countless worlds around distant stars.
Andrew West Andrew West is an Associate Professor in the Department of Astronomy at Boston University (BU). West’s major research interests center around using low-mass stars (the smallest, yet most numerous stars in the Milky Way) to understand the structure and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy, the environments that host exoplanets, and various processes on the stars themselves. Professor West has a strong commitment to his role as a scholar-teacher and has been the instructor for Alien Worlds at Boston University since 2011. In 2013, he was awarded an NSF CAREER grant and a Cottrell Scholarship for his research and teaching endeavors, including his efforts to increase the diversity of Astronomy and other science fields.