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University of Geneva

The Diversity of Exoplanets

University of Geneva via Coursera


The discovery of extra-solar planets orbiting other stars has been one of the major breakthroughs in astronomy of the past decades, changing our view on the formation of planetary systems, mainly drawn from the observation of the Solar System. Today, over 860 exoplanets are known and the Kepler satellite has recently identified over 2700 additional candidates, most of them awaiting for confirmation. We have learned that exoplanets are extremely common objects in the Universe and that planetary systems are much more diverse than originally predicted.

Our knowledge about exoplanets has dramatically increased thanks to the systematic monitoring of stars in the solar neighborhood by radial velocities, photometry, microlensing, and recently direct imaging, bringing valuable constraints to planet formation theories, as well as to models of planet interior structure, and atmosphere physics. In this course, we will review the main discoveries, describe the different approaches to detect exoplanets and characterise their orbital and physical properties.


Week 1 - Introduction: History and context  
Week 2 - Planet detection I: the mass and orbital characterisation of systems
Week 3 - Planet detection II: the power of transit  
Week 4 - Statistical results I: mass‐separation‐radius  
Week 5 - Statistical results II: orbital characteristics and architecture of systems  
Week 6 - Observational approach to planetary atmospheres

Taught by

Stéphane Udry

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5.0 rating, based on 2 reviews

Start your review of The Diversity of Exoplanets

  • Sean Burke completed this course.

    One of my favorite MOOCs ever, and I really hope it is brought back for a repeat. It's an extraordinary privilege to learn about exoplanets from the team that discovered the first, and the kind of thing that for most of us can only happen online!
  • Robert Kane

    Robert Kane completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    This is a good class on the techniques used to discover exo-planets. The quizzes feature math questions frequently, so get your scientific calculators out. You can download a copy of the lecture transcripts to study for the quizzes. The grade is based on your six quiz scores, but you can take each quiz 3 times and you get the highest score of the 3. Over all a good class.

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