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MPhys Physics / Course details
Year of entry: 2022
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Course unit details:
Physics of the Solar System
|Unit level||Level 1|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||Department of Physics & Astronomy|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Physics of the Solar System
|Unit title||Unit code||Requirement type||Description|
|Introduction to Astrophysics and Cosmology||PHYS10191||Pre-Requisite||Compulsory|
To show how many Solar System phenomena may be understood in terms of the physics already known to first year students.
This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 21/22 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact. Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates
On completion successful students will be able to:
- give a qualitative description of the Solar System and to know how the current picture emerged.
- apply dynamical principles to understand phenomena such as tides and orbits in the Solar System.
- make simple orbit calculations, based on energy and angular momentum conservation. Understand the basis of Kepler's laws and the Virial Theorem.
- know what may be deduced about the Sun by considering it as a black body and body in hydrostatic equilibrium.
- explain the basic principles behind the energy generation in the Sun.
- gain some knowledge of planetary atmospheres and to understand the origin of the Earth's greenhouse effect.
- gain some simple knowledge of the internal constitution of the planets.
- know how planetary ring systems may be formed.
- know the consequences of impacts in the Solar System.
- understand in outline how the Solar System is thought to have formed and evolved.
1. Overview of the Solar System
General description and inventory. Coordinates and time keeping. Date & time in the solar system
Kepler's laws; energy; orbits; space travel; tides.
3. The Sun
Plasma and magnetism; nuclear energy and solar neutrinos; helioseismology.
4. Planetary atmospheres
Origins; equilibrium temperatures; pressure and temperature profiles; atmospheric escape; composition; clouds; climate.
5. Planetary surfaces
Impact craters. Isotope dating.
6. Planetary interiors
Moments of inertia; seismology; volcanoes & plate tectonics; heating & cooling; magnetic fields.
7. The formation of the solar system
Interstellar origins; planet formation; future evolution.
Students will receive feedback on a number of optional problem sheets.There will also be weekly quizzes to provide feedback on understanding.
An Introduction to the Solar System, revised ed., 2011, Rothery, McBride & Gilmour (Cambridge University Press)
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Independent study hours|
|Timothy O'Brien||Unit coordinator|