AAPT Abstract Archive

Abstract Information

  Session: What to do When a Student Asks About...
  Paper Type: Invited
  Title: Habitable Exoplanets: Applying Introductory Physics to Other Worlds
  Meeting: 2018 Winter Meeting: San Diego, CA
  Location: N/A
  Time: 11:50AM
  Author: William F. Welsh,
San Diego State University, Astronomy Dept.,
619 594 2288, wwelsh@mail.sdsu.edu
  Co-Author(s): Philip Blanco
  Abstract: The number of exoplanets discovered now exceeds 3500, thanks to a large extent to NASA's Kepler Mission. In addition, there are over 2000 more candidate planets. The vast majority of these planets are not suitable for life (as we know it), but roughly two dozen are. How do we know this? How can we determine if a planet is "habitable"? Under the assumptions of thermal equilibrium it turns out to be a remarkably simple calculation. In our talk, we will discuss how astronomers routinely estimate a planet's temperature - and how your students can too. We will give a brief overview of the state-of-the-art in exoplanet science, and walk you through the derivation and the strengths and weaknesses of the "habitable zone" concept. We will then present some "tools you can use" in your classroom/lab to empower students to estimate surface temperatures and other characteristics of Earth-like exoplanets by using simple introductory physics.
  Footnotes: None
  Presentation: AAPT_Welsh-Blanco-2018Jan07sc.pdf

2003 © American Association of Physics Teachers
Have questions about this site? Email the webmaster.
AAPT Home AAPT Abstract Archive Past Meeting Info