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Young Planets and the Formation of Solar Systems

During the past two decades, more than 3,000 planets have been discovered orbiting other stars in our galaxy. These discoveries have galvanized interest among scientists and the general public in some of the oldest questions humankind has considered: How did we get here? Are we alone? Christopher Johns-Krull, Ph.D., will introduce participants to current theories of planet formation and the observations modern astronomers use to test these ideas. Participants will learn about the history of our current understanding of the formation of the solar system as well as the most current theories of where and how planets form. We will also consider the prospects for finding life elsewhere in our solar system and in our near galactic neighborhood. In addition, the course will consider how new observations with next generation telescopes and satellites will answer many questions related to our understanding of the universe and our place within it.

Co-Sponsor: Rice University Physics and Astronomy Department

Topics will include the following:

  • Basic structure of the solar system and solar nebula theory
  • Current theories of star formation
  • Methods astronomers use to search for exoplanets
  • Recent observations of newly formed planets around very young stars
  • Conditions needed for life and where these are likely to arise; arguments for and against life as common throughout the galaxy


Christopher Johns-Krull, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University. His research focuses on observational studies of star and planet formation, with a particular emphasis on the search for extra-solar planets orbiting very young stars. Recently, teams led by Dr. Johns-Krull have announced the discovery of a hot Jupiter orbiting a star 2 million years old as well as finding evidence that a hotJupiter orbiting another young star is being evaporated by the intense radiation from the star. Dr. Johns- Krull has also taken part in the discovery of several additional hot Jupiters orbiting middle-aged stars like the sun.

Course Details

Young Planets and the Formation of Solar Systems
  • Christopher Johns-Krull, Ph.D.
Register Now
Five meetings
Feb. 28-April 4
(no class March 14)
Day of the Week
Course Format
0.75 CEUs
Time of Day
7-8:30 p.m.
Tuition Fee
If registering by Feb. 14: $165
After Feb. 14: $175
For Rice alumni: $158
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