Professor Deane Peterson
Department of Physics and Astronomy
7:30 pm Room 001 ESS Building
Friday, March 6, 2009

The Early Solar System: Not So Musical Chairs

Our understanding of how the Sun's planetary system formed and evolved has dramatically matured, particularly since the era of the Apollo moon walks. While many of the main characteristics of the system now make sense there are still a lot of curious discoveries that haven't somehow fit in. Recent computer models of how the planets adjusted their positions in the first billion years after forming have lead to some startling conclusions: the system of 8 planets was initially very compact - a third the size it is now - and Neptune was located between Saturn and Uranus.

In the next in the popular lecture series, Astronomy Open Nights, Prof. Deane Peterson will describe the reasons for this rather startling claim and the array of details it helps explain. There is a growing consensus that the planetary system so familiar to us, looks vastly different now that when it formed.

Dr. Peterson, a resident of Poquott, NY, studies stars, their composition, and how stars evolve. He has been a member of the Stony Brook faculty since 1970, and has taught the introductory course on the Solar System more often than any person alive.