Exoplanet Physics

Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars other than our Sun.

This collection was developed by the Institute of Physics to help bring this new and exciting area of research into the classroom. It consists of five practical activities matched to the 11-14 curriculum.

Each of the activities is standalone, takes around 40 minutes to complete and can be used either in lessons or as part of a science club. Each offers plenty of opportunity for extension work and includes a taking it further section to allow students to build on what they have learnt through independent research.

They can also be used individually, or in combination, as the basis for a CREST Award (an enrichment scheme run by the British Science Association). One “pick-up and run” CREST research project idea is included. Others are available via http://www.iop.org/exoplanets.

 

Resources

Exoplanet atmospheres

In this activity developed by the Institute of Physics, students use simple diffraction gratings to observe the spectra from different sources, and deduce how scientists can work out which chemicals are present in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. When an exoplanet passes in front of its star, some of the starlight is...

Day and Night, Seasons

In this activity developed by the Institute of Physics, students model the motion of a planet around a star and investigate how day and night and seasons may be different on other planets. Working in pairs or small groups, students demonstrate night and day and seasons to each other. They can then go on to model...

The Habitable Zone

In this activity developed by the Institute of Physics, students investigate how temperature changes with distance from a heat source and relate this to planetary temperatures. After completing this activity, students should be able to:

*Understand that the temperature of a planet depends on its distance...

Planet Density

In this activity developed by the Institute of Physics, students use iron and sand to model the composition of the Earth and estimate what fraction of the Earth is occupied by its iron core. After completing this activity, students should be able to: *Measure mass and volume. *Calculate density from mass and volume...

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