The class begins with a discussion on transits--important astronomical events that help astronomers to find new planets. The event occurs when a celestial body moves across the face of the star it revolves around and blocks some of its light. By calculating the amount of light that is being obscured astronomers can obtain important information about both star and planet, such as size, density, radial velocity and more. The concept of planetary migration is explained in order to better understand the dramatic differences between bodies in the Inner and Outer Solar System. Finally, potential problems in the Solar System that may occur as a result of migration are addressed.
This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.
As one of the world's great universities, Yale traces its roots back to the early 1640s when colonial clergyman sought to establish a school in order to continue the tradition of European education within the Americas. Yale has now grown to educate over 11,000 students from over 100 countries on a 310-acre campus in New Haven, Connecticut. Within the school's 260 buildings are over 2,000 undergraduate programs in 65 departments taught by a distinguished faculty. As Academic Earth's first partner school, Yale has been a leader within the space of OpenCourseWare by consistently delivering on its esteemed mission to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.