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Grad Course Descriptions

Courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Astronomy 501: Modern Astronomical Techniques

The physical, mathematical, and practical methods of modern astronomical observations at all wavelengths are covered at a level that will prepare students to comprehend published data and prepare for their own observations. Major topics include: noise sources and astrophysical backgrounds; astronomical optics and aberrations; the physical basis of coherent and incoherent photon detectors; design and use of imaging, spectroscopic, and polarimetric instruments; coordinate and filter systems; antenna theory; aperture synthesis and image reconstruction techniques; and further topics of interest at the discretion of the instructor.

Astronomy 530: Stellar Astrophysics I

Star Formation and the Outer Layers of Stars: This course covers the assembly of stars and their protoplanetary disks from cold gas dust in the interstellar medium. Specific topics include fragmentation, disk dynamics, and jets. Radiative transfer in stellar atmospheres and envelopes, essential to interpreting observations of stars and their environs, is addressed in the second part.

Astronomy 531: Stellar Astrophysics II

This course covers the physical principles that determine the structure and the evolution of stars. The stellar structure equations and the physical processes taking place in stellar interiors are discussed in the first part. These principles are applied to the understanding of stellar evolution in the second part.

Astronomy 532: The High Energy Universe

The most energetic phenomena in the universe arise either through dramatic explosions of compact stars or through the infall of material into deep gravitational potentials. One theme of the course is the nature of accretion disks, which play a central role in the release of energy as material is accreted onto white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. In these compact objects, magnetic fields are of critical importance in producing the observed radiation through a variety of processes, which will be explored. Another theme is the nature of exploding stars, supernovae, and the particles accelerated in their shocks. Gamma-ray bursts, the most extreme shock events known, and a rapidly moving field, will be discussed. Among the other topics will be the X-ray emission from very hot gas in galaxies and galaxy clusters, as well as the X-ray and gamma-ray backgrounds.

Astronomy 533: The Structure and Content of Galaxies

This course provides a detailed introduction to the stellar content gaseous content, and kinematics and dynamics of the Milky Way and of other external galaxies. The basic stellar data of the Galaxy are described along with the distance scale of the Milky Way. The structure of the Galaxy is explored via star counts. A complete description is provided of the kinematics of our Galaxy based on both stellar and 21-cm observations, leading to a detailed discussion of the rotational properties of the Galactic disk. The stellar populations of galaxies are discussed from a kinematic and chemical standpoint, while the global properties of the ISM are explored; these are combined to provide a picture of the large-scale star-formation processes in galaxies. The course offers an introduction on the basic properties and demographics of normal galaxies in the local Universe, including systems within the Local Group and Local Supercluster. The taxonomy and fundamental physical properties of Active Galactic Nuclei are also presented. The course also provides a rigorous introduction to galactic dynamics, including basic properties of the collisionless Boltzmann equation, relaxation processes, orbits in a galactic potential, the Virial theorem, epicyclic orbits, and realistic stellar distribution functions. The course also explores fundamental issues regarding galaxy -scale dynamical instabilities and resonances.

Astronomy 534: The Extragalactic Universe

This course provides an overview of the study of the physical universe as a whole and in terms of its component structures (galaxies and larger structures). It focuses particularly on the universe in the matter dominated epoch, and places emphasis on the dark matter component of the universe.

Topics include the structure and dynamics of the matter dominated universe, classical tests of the model, the early universe and the microwave epoch, probes of dark matter, estimation of cosmological parameters, gravitational lensing, clustering and large scale structure and formation and evolution of structure.

Astronomy 535: Astrophysics of the Interstellar Medium

The interstellar medium — the particulate matter located around and between the stars in a galaxy — occurs in a variety of forms and has temperatures ranging from a few degrees to millions of degrees Kelvin. The properties of the components of the interstellar medium arise from interactions with stars from the period of star formation through stellar death. In this course, we will discuss atomic and molecular processes, along with interactions of radiation and matter and the latest pertinent observations, will be applied toward understanding the physical, ionization, thermal, chemical, emission, and absorption properties of the interstellar medium. Attention will be given to fill regions, planetary nebulae, supernova remnants, cool neutral gas, molecular clouds, hot or X-ray-emitting gas, and particulate “dust” grains. In addition, the global and evolutionary properties of gas and dust in our galaxy will be carefully examined.

Astronomy 901: Theoretical Astrophysics Research

Theoretical Astrophysics Research

Astronomy 902: Observational Astrophysics Research

Observational Astrophysics Research

Astronomy 995: Doctoral Candidate Thesis Research

Doctoral Candidate Thesis Research