AS8: Formation of Planetary Systems

Formation of Planetary Systems (module AS8)

Module convenor: Richard Alexander (Leicester)
Course home-page

This module aims to give students a broad overview of how planets form. We will primarily consider planet formation from an astrophysical perspective (rather than a planetary science or cosmochemistry approach), and the course will cover both observational and theoretical research into planets and their origins. We will review observations of both the Solar System and exoplanets, and discuss observations and models of the structure and evolution of protoplanetary discs (which are the sites of planet formation). We will then consider the dynamics of solid bodies, and discuss how sub-micron-sized dust grains grow to form larger bodies. From this point our theory of planet formation remains incomplete, but we will discuss and critique the leading models for both terrestrial and giant planet formation. Finally we will discuss planet migration and the dynamics of young planetary systems, and how these processes shape the architectures of planetary systems.

The course consists of five two-hour lectures. Supporting handouts ("lecture notes") will be posted both here and on the course home-page in advance of the lectures, and slides will be made available here after the lectures have been given.

Course materials
Lecture 1: Observations of planetary systems (handout; slides)
Lecture 2: Protoplanetary discs (handout; slides)
Lecture 3: Planetesimal formation (handout; slides)
Lecture 4: Planet formation (handout; slides)
Lecture 5: Planet migration (handout; slides)

The module will be assessed through a short essay, reviewing and critiquing a recent research paper in this field. Full details of the assessment can be found HERE. The deadline for submission is Friday 15th January 2016.

Textbooks & Background Reading
The handouts will provide a list of key papers and articles for each lecture. By far the most relevant textbook for this course is Astrophysics of Planet Formation, by Phil Armitage. It covers most of the material in the course (usually in greater detail than we will), and is an invaluable and up-to-date summary of the field. Further suggested background reading is discussed on the course home-page

5 lectures of 2 hours each.
Academic year: 
12/11/2015 - 14:00