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Extraterrestrial Life: Problem Set #1 Due, in class, Thursday January 31st

Summary: Extraterrestrial Life: Problem Set #1
Due, in class, Thursday January 31st
1) Explain briefly how the terrestrial planets (such as the Earth) differ from
the giant planets (such as Jupiter). Describe how these differences are
thought to arise as a consequence of the theory of the formation of the
Solar System.
2) It is possible (although unproven by observations so far) that planetary
systems may exist around high mass stars as well as around low mass
stars. Why are planetary systems around high mass stars unpromising
locations to search for life?
3) Suppose that a single supernova explosion results in the ejection of 10
Solar masses of heavy elements (all those elements other than hydrogen
and helium) back into space. If the 1011
stars in the Galaxy have an average
heavy element content that is 1% of their mass, how many supernovae
must have exploded during the lifetime of the Galaxy to create those
heavy elements? [assume that the average stellar mass is 1 Solar mass for
the purposes of this question]
4) The distance to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, is 4.4 light years.
How fast would a spacecraft need to go (in km per second) to reach Alpha


Source: Armitage, Phil - Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder


Collections: Physics