ALIEN PLANETS AND STRANGE STARS: NEWS FROM THE KEPLER AND TESS SPACE MISSIONS
Professor Donald Kurtz, astronomer
The Kepler Space Telescope has finished its mission, with the discovery of around 5 000 exoplanets and many new kinds of stellar astrophysics. The TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has recently begun its two-year mission to survey bright, nearby stars in search of closer exoplanets, particularly in the habitable zone where life may be possible, and to gain a deeper understanding of the stars.
This course will give historical background to some of the greatest discoveries in science, physical and mathematical understanding of Kepler’s laws and the measurement of mass in the Universe. It will show what is known about exoplanets and what TESS is discovering. Strange stars will be discussed, including some that are still not understood. The course concludes with an amusing and eclectic tour of the history of the Western calendar.
1. What good is astronomy? The biggest payoff ever
2. Mass in the Universe: Kepler’s Laws from planets to black holes
3. The Kepler and TESS space missions: 5 000 exoplanets and counting
4. Strange stars and new views inside the stars
5. It’s about Time!