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An introduction to exoplanets
An introduction to exoplanets

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An introduction to exoplanets

Introduction and guidance

Welcome to this free course, An introduction to exoplanets.

The course lasts 8 weeks with approximately 3 hours of study time each week. You can work through the course at your own pace, so if you have more time one week there is no problem with pushing on to complete another week.

The course introduces our Galaxy’s population of planets, and some of their many surprises. It explains the methods used by astronomers to study exoplanets, and provides a general introduction to the methods of scientific inquiry. The course culminates in discussion of life elsewhere in our Galaxy.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • discuss planets, exoplanets, stars, galaxies and the Universe
  • describe the various types of planets in terms of their mass, radius and density, and know which types are most common within our Galaxy
  • understand how astronomers detect and study exoplanets, and appreciate the limitations to the knowledge we have
  • describe the characteristics of some particularly interesting exoplanets, and know a little about the Galaxy’s history of planet formation
  • summarise the current ideas about the likelihood of life and complex life elsewhere in the Galaxy.

Moving around the course

In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each week, you can find a link to the next one. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Course content’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course. Alternatively, use the week links at the top of every page of the course.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to the quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.