First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SCP4063985, A.A. 2017/18

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2016/17

Information on the course unit
Degree course First cycle degree in
SC1160, Degree course structure A.Y. 2008/09, A.Y. 2017/18
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination ASTROPHYSICS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Physics and Astronomy
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge MONICA LAZZARIN FIS/05

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses FIS/05 Astronomy and Astrophysics 6.0

Mode of delivery (when and how)
Period Second semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Organisation of didactics
Type of hours Credits Hours of
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 48 102.0 No turn

Start of activities 26/02/2018
End of activities 01/06/2018

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of Physics, Chemistry and Maths is required, as acquired during the first two years of the course.
Target skills and knowledge: The aim of the course is to give general information on the Solar System and the basic elements for the study of the minor bodies of the Solar System. In particular, properties of planets, satellites and of comets and asteroids will be addressed.
Examination methods: The final examination consists on an oral exam in which the content of the course will be discussed.
Assessment criteria: The evaluation of the exam is based on the verification of the acquired competences. The student should have the basic knowledge to face several topics related to planets or the minor bodies of the solar system
Course unit contents: The course will give the basic knowledge of the Solar System properties, taking into account the most recent discoveries.
The course is composed of 48 hours corresponding to 6 credits and the main topics are:

1) General properties of the Solar System:
-general description of the structure and of its components
-classification of the planets and description of their chemical, physical and dynamical properties
-principal properties of planet and satellies (orbital motions, mass, dimension, rotation, shape, temperature, magnetic fields, composition, atmospheres)
-General properties of the moons and of the jovian planets rings systems
-tidal forces
2) Minor bodies
-definition and their importance
-origin of comets and asteroids
-description of the zones occupied by minor bodies: main asteroid belt, Kuiper belt and Oort cloud
-Resonances and their importance for the solar system
-General classification
-classification with the Tisserand parameter
-cometary orbits
-non gravitational forces and their influence on the cometary motion
4) Kuiper Belt
-Classification of the Kuiper Belt objects and description of the classes
-The biggest KBOs (Pluto, Quaoar, Sedna,...)
-Physical properties of the KBOs: albedo, dimensions, rotation, shape,..
-surface composition of the KBO with spectroscopy and photometry
-Kuiper Belt structure and its formation
-relationship with other objects of the Solar System: moons of Jovian planets, Centaurs, Jupiter family comets
5)Physical properties of the comets
-Active and non active comets
-magnitude of a comet
-properties of a cometary nucleus
-cometary nuclei models
-dimension, mass, density of a cometary nucleus
-evolution of a comet along its orbit, coma and tails formation process
-vaporization theory
-coma structure
-production processes in the come and tails
-Structure of an ion tail
-cometary spectra form uv to radio
-coma spectra: emissions mechanisms
-Haser and Festou models for the determination of density distribution in the coma
-evolution of comets and inactive cometary nuclei
-asteroids on cometary orbits
-differences between comets and asteroids
-comets in the main belt
-cometary missions: what we have learnt
-asteroid distribution in the solar system
-general characteristics
-Yarkovski effect
-YORP effect
-binary asteroids
-asteroid families
-physical properties:mass, density, albedo, magnitudo, dimensions
-asteroid taxonomy and classes distribution in the main belt
-spectroscopy of asteroids in the visible and near infrared region
8)Missions to asteroids
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: The course is composed of 48 taught classes. The students are invited to actively partecipate to the lessons.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Lecture notes prepared by the teacher will be given to the students. It is not necessary to buy the indicated books.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • K.S. Krishna Swamy, Physics of Comets, Third edition. --: World Scientific Publishing, --.
  • I. Mann, A. Nakamura, T. Mukai editors, Small Bodies in Planetary System, Lecture notes in physics. --: Springer-Verlag, 2009.
  • B. Bertotti, P. Farinella, D. Vokrouhlicky editors, Physics of the Solar System, Dynamics and Evolution, Space Physics and Spacetime Structure. --: Kluwer Academic Publishers, --.
  • W.F. Bottke, A. Cellino, P. Paolicchi, R.P Binzel editors, Asteroids III. --: The University of Arizona Press, --.
  • H. Balsiger, Kathrin Altwegg, Walter F. Huebner,, Origin and early evolution of comet nuclei, Volume 28 di Space Sciences Series of Issi. --: Springer, 2008. editori: H. Balsiger, Kathrin Altwegg, Walter F. Huebner, T. Owen, R. Schulz
  • J.J. Lissauer, I. de Pater, Fundamental Planetary Science. --: Cambridge University Press, 2013.