Florian DEBRAS
05 61 33 28 26

05 61 50 49 45

exoplanet • Doppler effect • planetary orbit • atmosphere • Copernic • planetary system observations • history • space exploration • Pic du Midi

Learning objectives

This course aims at discovering the mathematics and physics of exoplanet science while being put in the broader historical context of the notion of planetary systems and their observation.

It is a joint course from specialists in exoplanet science and historian which will allow the student to understand how we arrived to the revolution of exoplanets, which started only 30 years ago, both from science advances and as a society.


  • Bachelor physics: mainly gravitation, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics
  • An understanding of Fourier transform would be beneficial
  • An open mind for a joint science-literature course!

Brief description of the course

We will first detail the physics of exoplanets orbits and how to detect them. This will be linked to a historical reflection on the notion of planetary system, and how we arrived to this accepted notion today. The diversity of exoplanetary systems will be also studied, with the aim of understanding that, if the comparison to the solar system can be a good thing, it can bias the understanding of extrasolar worlds.

We will have practical session on data taken from real instruments to observe exoplanets, linked to an historical perspective on the “Observatoire des Midi Pyrénées” and notably its observing site, the “Pic du Midi”, where contemporary science is still performed and developed.

We will then focus on the physics of the interior and atmosphere of exoplanets, and how they can be observed and constrained by contemporary instruments.

The scientific and historical component will therefore be integrated at best in a logical ensemble, allowing to understand the place of the Earth in the galaxy and of astronomy in our society.