Not long ago, the Solar System was the only example of a planetary system – a star and the bodies orbiting it – that we knew. Now, we know thousands of planetary systems, and have even been able to observe planetary systems at the moment of their birth.
This Very Short Introduction explores this new frontier, incorporating the latest research. Planetary Systems: A Very Short Introduction takes the reader on a journey through the grand sweep of time, from the moment galaxies begin to form after the Big Bang to trillions of years in the future when the Universe will be a dilute soup of dim galaxies populated mostly by red dwarf stars. Throughout, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert introduces the latest insights gained from a new generation of telescopes that catch planetary systems at the moment of formation, and to the theoretical advances that attempt to make sense of these observations. He explains how the elements that make up life and the planets on which life can live are forged in the interiors of dying stars, and make their way into rocky planets. He also explores the vast array of newly discovered planets orbiting stars other than our own, and explains the factors that determine their climates. Finally, he reveals what determines how long planetary systems can live, and what happens in their end-times.
2. Creation revealed
3. Beautiful theories, ugly facts
4. What are planets made of?
5. A grand tour of exoplanets
6. Planetary climate and habitability
7. How it all ends
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert is the Halley Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, having previously served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Princeton, and MIT. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and was a lead author on the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. His work on the fundamental physics governing planetary climate over more than three decades has dealt with Earth's climate over deep time, anthropogenic global change over the next millennium, the climate of Solar System bodies, and the climates of the newly discovered exoplanets. He is the author of Principles of Planetary Climate (2010).