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Astronomy Courses

Program | Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses


All courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise specified.

640 Galactic Astronomy
Distribution of stars and gas in the Milky Way. Spiral structure; formation and evolution of Milky Way; kinematics of stars and gas; missing mass in our galaxy; the galactic center.

643 Astrophysics of Stars and Stellar Populations
Topics include gravitational equilibrium configurations, virial theorem, polytropes, thermodynamics, convective and radiative transport, stellar atmospheres, nuclear reactions and energy generation, pre-main-sequence contraction, evolution to red giant, white dwarf, and neutron star, and supernova explosions.

644 Radiation Processes in Astrophysics
Topics include continuum emission mechanisms (synchrotron radiation, inverse compton, and free-free emission), dust emission, photo-ionization and recombination, excitation and transfer of atomic and molecular lines, line broadening, and population inversion and astrophysical masers.

645 Astrophysical Dynamics and Thermodynamics
Dynamic and gravitational principles applied to astrophysics. Potential theory, orbital mechanics, virial theorem, Jeans’ equations, equilibrium and stability of self-gravitating systems, kinetic theory. Applications to galactic structure and evolution, mergers, dark matter, evolution of star clusters and galactic nuclei and solar system dynamics.

646 Radiative Transfer
Broad survey of application of radiation transfer theory to astronomical problems; practical, rather than formal, aspects of subject. Analytic and numerical solutions of equation of transfer, including Monte Carlo method and difference equation techniques. Applications to problems of increasing complexity: stars with expanding atmospheres, nebulae, molecular clouds, interstellar masers.

650 Extragalactic Astronomy
Structure, formation, and evolution of galaxies. Stellar/gas content, kinematics, spiral structure, chemical evolution, galactic nuclei, missing mass in galaxies and clusters, galaxy collisions, determination of the Hubble constant, large-scale structure, and motions in the universe.

699 Master’s Thesis
Credit, 1-9.

717 Plasma Astrophysics
Fundamentals of plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics: particle motion in electromagnetic fields, fluid description, wave propagation, instabilities, and radiation in plasmas. Specific applications of astronomical interest: earth’s magnetosphere, sunspots, cosmic rays, interstellar medium, stellar winds, and pulsars. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 606 or consent of instructor.

731 Radio Astronomy
Principles of antennas, receivers, and spectrometers for radio astronomy. Surveys state-of-art systems at centimeter to sub-millimeter wavelengths. Observational techniques and basic system design discussed. There is a laboratory component to course.

732 Computational Methods for Physical Science
Basic numerical methods: linear algebra, interpolation and extrapolation, integration, root finding, extremization and differential equations. Introduction to Monte Carlo techniques used to simulate processes that occur in nature and methods to simulate experiments that measure these processes including random number generators, sampling techniques, and multidimensional simulation. Methods for extracting information from experiments such as experimental measurements and uncertainties, confidence intervals, parameter estimation, likelihood methods, least squares method, hypothesis tests, and goodness of fit tests. Chaotic dynamics and other special topics as time permits.

741 The Interstellar Medium
Describes the gas and dust components of the interstellar medium in ionized regions, atomic clouds, and molecular clouds. Shows how data from optical, infrared, and radio wavelengths can be utilized to determine density, temperature, composition, and dynamics of the various phases of the ISM. Comparison of these results with theoretical models. Includes an overview of the processes that affect the evolution of the ISM including the incorporation of gas and dust into stars, the effect of HII regions and young stellar objects, and the return of matter from evolved stars and supernovae.

742 Molecular Astrophysics
History of molecular astrophysics. Rotational spectra of molecules. Excitation of molecules under interstellar conditions. Techniques for inferring physical conditions in molecular clouds: microwave and infrared observations. Relationship of molecular clouds to star formation.

746 Solar System Physics
Physics and chemistry of planetary atmospheres, surfaces, and interiors. Comets, meteors, and asteroids. Solar wind, solar terrestrial relations, and interplanetary medium. Advanced topics in mechanics applicable to astronomical problems.

748 Cosmology and General Relativity
Observational cosmology and cosmological principles. Background radiation and Olbers’ paradox. Newtonian cosmology. General relativity, gravitational waves, relativistic cosmology, and gravitational collapse. Theories of the universe and origin of celestial structure.

791, 792 Seminar: Review of Current Literature
Discussion and review of current articles in astronomical literature. May be repeated for credit. Required of graduate students. Credit, 1-2 each semester.

796-797 Special Topics
Special study in astronomy or astrophysics, either theoretical or experimental under direction of faculty member. May be repeated for credit. Consent of Head of the Department of Astronomy and directing faculty member required. Credit, 1-6.

830 Radio Astrophysics
Physical theory fundamental to radio astronomy: propagation of electromagnetic waves in isotropic and anisotropic media with emphasis on plasmas. Faraday rotation, emission and absorption of synchrotron radiation and bremsstrahlung emission, nonthermal radio source models.

850 Advanced Topics in Astronomy
Topics of special interest not covered in regular courses at the present time. Recent examples include material in infrared astronomical techniques and instrumentation; high resolution astronomy, including interferometry and speckle methods; and the use of modern computer hardware and software in astronomical problems involving large data sets.

860 Seminar on Research Topics in Astronomy
Topics of current interest not covered in regular courses. Instruction via reading assignments and seminars. May be repeated for credit. Consent of instructor required. Credit, 1-3. 

899 Doctoral Dissertation
Credit, 18.

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