Hello, I’m Brian Schmidt.
And I’m Paul Francis. In this course we’d like to share with you one of the greatest
revolutions of modern astrophysics. The discovery of exoplanets, planets orbiting other stars.
And how these discoveries are changing how we understand how solar systems like our own form.
20 years ago we knew about precisely one planetary system, our own. There were countless, trillions of other stars out there, but we had no idea if they had planets orbiting them or not. Today things are very different.
We know of more than a thousand planets beyond our own solar system. The universe is literally teeming with planets,
and some of these planets are very strange indeed. Hot, Jupiter-like systems
which are literally skimming their star’s surfaces. Cold and lonely free-floating planets drifting far away in the deepness of space. Diamond planets and planets that have glass for rain. Super Earths, even planets orbiting neutron stars
which really shouldn’t exist. Each of these discoveries are helping us
shape our understanding of how solar systems, like our own, form. This is one of four courses that, together, make up the
Australian National University’s first year astrophysics unit. The other three courses include an introductory course
to the greatest mysteries of the universe, a course on the violent universe,
and finally, a course in cosmology. You can take these courses individually or combine all four
to get a complete overview of modern astrophysics. To really get the most out of our courses, you need to have a solid understanding of high school level physics and maths. Hardly a week goes by without us opening our newspapers
and discovering yet another exoplanet discovery. We look forward to sharing the latest results with you.