Geol 2870 Spring 2014

Extrasolar Planets

[Abstract Book]

Guidelines for the final proposal:

[Guide for Proposers]

Sample proposal:


This is mine (successful) from 2001.

This is a scan because I wrote it in a totally awesome program called Page Maker which the fine folks at Adobe chose to discontinue for reasons nobody understands.

I mention this to point out that you should always print copies of important stuff because although digital files are fleeting, paper lasts forever.

Course Description: In the spring of 2014, Planetary Evolution will focus on extrasolar planets, which is an emerging area of research in planetary science. Students will use their knowledge of solar system astrophysical, geological, and geophysical processes to understand how extrasolar planets and systems different from our own might have formed and evolved, and how to place our solar system in context with those discovered so far. The emphasis of the course will be placed on the processes at work during the formation and evolution of planets and their systems rather than on individual planets or astronomical detection methods.


Prof. Amy C. Barr, Dept. of Geological Sciences

Office: Lincoln Field 303

Campus phone: 3-5163


Office Hours: Tuesday 10 AM - noon, or by appointment.

[Syllabus as PDF]

Meeting Times:

Tuesdays from 3:00 to 5:20 PM in Lincoln Field 105. First class meeting is on 1/28/2014.


Geol 1950G, or instructor permission, which will be granted to students who can demonstrate an understanding of the concepts presented in Geol 1950G.

Class Size:

Enrollment will be limited to ~15 students to allow each student taking the course for credit to give at least two presentations during the course of the semester.

Course Format

The class will meet in a two and a half-hour block once a week. Discussion topics will be explored through student-led discussions of relevant scientific papers. Each student will lead at least two discussions over the course of the semester. Short lectures from the instructor will supplement student presentations as needed.

Each class meeting will consist of: Two 35-minute talks from students, each followed by about 20 minutes of discussion; There will be one or two 5-minute coffee breaks during the class meeting.

At the first class meeting, students will be invited to suggest topics of their own choosing. However, to maintain balance in the course, I would like to spend ~four class periods discussing each of these three broad subject areas:



On the weeks that you present and lead discussion, you will be evaluated on the presentation of material, facilitation of in-class discussion, and a 1-2 page written summary of critical points arising in the discussion. You will present and lead class discussion at least twice during the semester, with each discussion/presentation being worth 25% of the total grade. I will provide you with written feedback and a grade for your presentation and summary ~ 1 week after you present.

Your talk and summary (each worth a total of 100 points) with be evaluated on the following criteria:

At the class period BEFORE your presentation : Email to the professor the titles (and web links) for 1-2 papers that will be discussed in your presentation. These are the papers that the students will read in preparation for your talk. We will announce the titles of the papers for the following week at the end of each class meeting.

Prepare a 35 minute presentation on the topic, specifically addressing:

Final Project:

Over the course of the semester, you will prepare a research proposal on a theoretical study (includes modeling), laboratory measurements, observational campaign, or new instrumentation concept of your own choosing.

The proposal must be written in the format of a persuasive NASA NESSF or GSRP fellowship proposal, which is, per NASA policy: "no more than 6 single-spaced pages" in 12 point font, "with at least 1-inch margins on all sides." The 6-page limit does include figures, but, breaking with NASA policy, we will not include references in the 6-page limit.

Again, quoting NASA guidelines, "The research plan should be presented with a clear scientific hypothesis or question(s) to be addressed by the proposed work." The proposal should also address its relevance to NASA objectives. The proposal should also describe, in as much detail as possible, your proposed methodology, and demonstrate how that methodology can lead to a test of your central hypothesis.

Proposals will be evaluated on:

A one-page "Notice of Intent to Propose" will be due on March 11th. This should be a 250 word description of the basic idea in your proposal, your methodology, and the "category" of proposal (i.e., theory, laboratory, observational, instrumentation).

A one-page progress report will be due on April 15th.

Each of these is worth 5% of the course grade. I will only accept your proposal if the notice of intent and progress report are turned in. The final proposal is worth 25% of the course grade.

You will present the basic elements of your proposal in a persuasive talk in front of a panel of experts during the final class meeting. The final presentation is worth 5% of the course grade.

The remaining 10% of your grade is passed on in-class participation.

Textbooks/Reference Books

Guidelines for Discussion Topics [Some papers to serve as food for thought...]
Web Resources
Class Meeting Schedule:
January 28Overview/Organizational MeetingAmy[PDF]
Feb 4 Gas Giants & Their Moons
Lauren: Formation of gas giants and their moonsTextbook: Sec. 2 & 3 of D'Angelo chapter; [Canup & Ward 2006][PDF][PDF]
Noah: Orbital stability of moons; tidal dissipation [Weidner & Horne 2010], [Heller 2012][PDF][PDF]
Feb 11 Super-Earths vs Sub-Neptunes
Erica: Interior structures[Seager et al., 2007], [Lopez & Fortney 2013] [PDF][PDF]
Terik: Ambiguity in density/compositionTextbook: Sec. 2 & 4 of Sotin chapter; [Rogers & Seager (2010)] [PDF][PDF]
Tess: Phase behavior of water ice at high P[Durham et al., 1997][Durham et al., 1997; correction], [Cavazzoni, et al., 1999] [PDF]
Feb 18 No meeting
Feb 25 High- and Low-density planets
Amy: Presentation style [PDF]
James: Low-density planets [Lissauer et al., 2011], [Rogers et al., 2011] [PDF][PDF]
Chris: High-density planets [Deleuil et al., 2008], [Deleuil et al., 2011] [PDF][PDF]
Mar 4 Exotic planetary compositions
Dan: Spectra of exoplanets[Seager & Sasselov 2000], [Deming et al., 2005], [Knutson et al., 2014] [PDF][PDF]
Will: Magma oceans[Elkins-Tanton 2012] [PDF][PDF]
David: Hot Neptunes[Baraffe et al., 2006], [Brunini & Cionco 2005] [PDF][PDF]
Mar 11 Exomoon composition & detection
Emily: Formation other than co-accretion [Lewis 2011], [Elser et al., 2011], [Williams 2013] [PDF][PDF]
Erica: Compositions & sizes[Simon et al., 2013][Canup & Ward 2006] [PDF][PDF]
Stephanie: Detection[Noyola et al., 2013] , [Kipping et al., 2012][PDF][PDF]
Mar 18 No meeting, LPSC week
Mar 25 No meeting, Spring break
Apr 1 Planet/star composition
Dan: Stellar metallicity from spectra; planet/star composition relationships[Fischer & Valenti 2005], [Gonzalez 1997], [Hasegawa & Pudritz 2014] [PDF][PDF]
Andres: Formation in environments w/ weird metallicity[Wang & Fischer][Johnson et al.,] [PDF][PDF]
Apr 8 Surface/interior processes in rocky bodies
Will: Styles & features of volcanism[Kaltenegger et al., 2010]
Lauren: Plate tectonics[O'Neill & Lenardic 2007][Valencia et al., 2007] [PDF][PDF]
Apr 15 Giant impacts btw. terrestrial bodies
David: Detection[Dokuchaev & Eroshenko][Lupu et al., 2014] [PDF][PDF]
Terik: Dust spectra & production [Johnson et al., (2012)], Roberge & Kamp chapter from Exoplanets book, [Forgan & Elvis (2011)][PDF][PDF]
Apr 22 Habitability I
James: Presence of liquid water[Elkins-Tanton 2011][Tinetti et al., 2012][PDF][PDF]
Kevin: Clay minerals; origin & detection [Hazen et al., 2008], [Pearson et al., 2002][PDF][PDF]
Apr 29 Exoplanets in unusual settings...
Andres: Around red giants and non-main sequence [Veras et al., 2013][PDF][PDF]
Noah: Generation of Planetary Magnetic Fields[Griessmeier 2011], [Stevenson 2003], [Siemion et al., 2013] [PDF][PDF]
Chris: In non-Keplerian orbitsFabrycky chapter from Exoplanet textbook [PDF][PDF]
May 6 Habitability II
Emily: Planetary migration Lubow & Ida chapter from Exoplanets book [PDF][PDF]
Stephanie: Atmospheres on tidally locked planets[Joshi 2003], [Kite et al., (2011)], [Seager & Deming (2009)] [PDF][PDF]
Kevin: Ocean chemistry of water worlds[Leger et al., 2004][Sohl et al., 2010], Waterworld (1995), starring Kevin Costner. [PDF][PDF]
May 13 Final meeting Presentation of proposals