Prospectuses 2011-2012
Radboud universityProspectusesFaculty of Science > Bachelor Natuur- en Sterrenkunde

Planetary systems 

Course ID
second quarter
Teaching methods
  • 10 hrs computer course
  • 16 hrs lecture
  • 16 hrs problem session
First years math and physics. Students of chemistry and biology very welcome!
  • The student understands the structure of the solar system
  • The student understands the properties of the different kinds of planets and small bodies
  • The student understands the techniques used to search for extrasolar planets
  • The student understands the basic ideas and approaches of astrobiology

In the last 13 years, more than 200 planets have been found outside our own solar system. This course starts with an overview over our own solar system and uses this basis to explore exstrasolar planetary systems. What is the structure of our own solar system? What kinds of planetary bodies are there? What are earth-like planets, gas giants, dwarf planets, asteroids and comets? How did our solar system form, how do other planetary systems form? Why are many of the other systems so different from ours? Can there be life elsewhere in the universe?


This course is about the planets in out own solar system and in planetary systems around other stars.

  1. Overview, structure of the solar system, orbits, tidal forces
  2. Earth-like planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
  3. Gas giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
  4. Small bodies: asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud, dust
  5. Exoplanets: History and detection methods
  6. Properties of extrasolar planets and planetary systems
  7. The formation of planetary systems
  8. Astrobiologie: Life in the Universe
Schriftelijk, Essay + programmeer opdracht


  • I. de Pater & J. Lissauer: Planetary Sciences, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-48129-4
    The best book on the subject. Covers more than the course, but will be great for future reference as well.
  • Syllabus Solar System, from a 13 weeks course in Amsterdam, available from the teacher.
Extra information
Obligatory for astrophysics students.