Introduction to Astronomy - Weber State University

Introduction to Astronomy - Weber State University

Announcements Turn in Homework 14 (5 questions) Today is the deadline for the Monty Python challenge! Observatory session tonight, weather permitting Review session on Friday Final Exam next Monday or Tuesday: 2 hours, 100 points, comprehensive,

with an emphasis on galaxies and cosmology Book Recommendation 365 Starry Nights, by Chet Raymo My favorite guide to the constellations: hand-drawn, grouped by season, with a miniature lesson on mythology or astronomy for each night of the year.

Course Outline Naked-eye astronomy Crash course in physics Our solar system The stars Structure and history of the universe The Observable Universe

Galaxy Dark era Quasar Background radiation (3000-degree

ionized gas) We can use redshifts to map the universe You are here! The Outer Solar System

Neptune Uranus On this scale: 1 A.U. = 7 pixels Saturn Jupiter

Orbital radii: Jupiter 5.2 A.U. Saturn 9.5 A.U.

Uranus 19 A.U. Neptune 30 A.U. The Inner Solar System

Mars Earth Venus Mercury On this scale: 1 A.U. = 120 pixels Diam. of Sun = 1 pixel

Sun Diam. of moons orbit = 1/2 pixel Diam. of earth = 1/100 pixel Earth and Moon to scale

Life in the Universe 6 December 2006 Today: History of life on earth Search for life in the solar system Life in other solar systems? How to tell? Why arent they here (or are they)?

Earth: Life History of Life on Earth Bacteria (simple cells) > 3 billion years ago Complex cells about 1 billion years ago Multicellular life 700 million years ago

Humans < 1 million years ago Agriculture 10,000 years ago Radio communication 100 years ago Space travel 45 years ago The planets, to scale The Terrestrial Worlds

Life on Mars? Past robotic visits found no clear sign of life Allen Hills meteorite inconclusive Robotic exploration has discovered pretty good evidence for past surface

water Europa: Water beneath ice Water is probably kept warm by tidal friction. Could this be a place to look for life? Titan (Saturns largest moon)

Opaque atmosphere of nitrogen, methane, smog. Surface (cold!) could have liquid methane, other hydrocarbons. Huygens probe landed in Jan. 2005. What about other solar systems? Planets seem to be common around other stars

Hot, massive stars probably dont live long enough for life (as we know it) to develop

Cool, low-mass stars are unlikely to have earth-like planets with liquid water Best bet: sun-like stars, which are still fairly common (perhaps 1010 in our galaxy).

But we cant go there (in the foreseeable future), so how can we learn if theres life? 3 ways to look for life in other solar systems:

Look for clues in spectra. For example, an atmosphere with abundant oxygen would probably indicate the presence of life, and may be detectable with future instruments Look/listen for artificial signals from extraterrestrial civilizations Speculate Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Jodi Foster in Contact (heard a message from an alien civilization and got to go for a visit!) Dr. Jill Tarter, SETI Institute (hasnt heard any messages yet!)

Speculations are easy Simple life may be relatively common in the universe Multicellular life is probably much less common, since it may require rather rare conditions (stable environment for billions of years) Intelligent life is probably still less common

Technological civilizations comparable to ours would be rarer still, but may develop far superior technologies in a cosmic nanosecond What are the chances that we would discover such a civilization, or that they would discover us? Or have they?

(And if you believe everything you see on Fox) Seriously, why arent they here? Maybe they arent there! Or maybe interstellar travel is just too difficult Or maybe they just arent interested.

The bottom line? We really have no idea whether life exists elsewhere, let alone intelligent life or advanced civilizations. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but by and large, these opinions are based upon personal wishes, not facts.

Part of being scientific is setting personal wishes aside and admitting when you just dont know.

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