Intermediate Space Science

  • Combine this unit with one other to form the module 'Intermediate Physics Specialisms'

During this unit you will continue to build on your knowledge in speciality physics by exploring physical processes that occur within the planets of our solar system and exoplanets. This unit focuses on key topics covering the formation and evolution of the planets, both within the solar system and beyond, by investigating how energy is distributed within these planets, and how that changes the planetary interior, surface and atmosphere.

In the past, our understanding of planetary processes came from observations of the planets within our solar system, including the Earth.  However, in the past two decades, our understanding of these processes has been revised as a result of the wealth of new planets that have been discovered orbiting other stars. Here we will study planetary physics in the context of both the highly detailed observations made at Earth and within the solar system, and the wide breadth of planetary types now discovered.

This unit will cover the formation of the solar system by investigating the evidence we have both, within our solar system and in young star forming regions, and how these formation theories have been adapted following the detection of so many other worlds. We will then investigate how these planets continue to evolve after they have formed.

Topics covered

  • Formation of the solar system, and other planetary systems
  • The detection and taxonomy of planets and moons
  • Sources of energy within a planetary system
  • Planetary interiors and geology
  • Planetary atmospheres and magnetospheres
  • Ring and disk interactions