AY 145 --- Topics in Astrophysics

Department of Astronomy (Catalog #0212), Spring Term 2005.

Professor John P. Huchra Observatory P-309 495-7375 huchra@cfa.harvard.edu
TF James Battat Observatory P-201 496-0742 jbattat@cfa.harvard.edu
TF Randall Cooper Observatory A-109 496-3908 rcooper@cfa.harvard.edu
JPH's Assistant Katie Lynn Observatory P-324 495-7390 klynn@cfa.harvard.edu

The class meets Monday + Wednesday 9:30-11:00 A.M. in the Science Center, Room 309A (check for changes!).

First meeting Wednesday, February 2nd.

There will be a final exam and a mid-term research project instead of a mid-term exam.

The goal of this course is to provide astronomy and physics concentrators with a more advanced view of astrophysics which includes astrophysical processes and principles. We will do this by first covering relatively basic material but with an eye towards observational limitations and uncertainties. We will then cover a broad but selected set of topics that will range accross stellar evolution, star formation, the interstellar medium, cosmology and extragalctic astronomy. Rougly speaking a thurd of the course will be devoted to fundamentals, a third to stars and the interstellar medium and a third to galaxies and cosmology. Each week we will also discuss a current preprint available on the astrophysics preprint server and related to the topic of the lectures.

Observing Project Status

Observing is complete
3 out of 4 nights were a success (Mon, Tue, Thr)

Observing project assignment PDF | PS

Timeseries data from Observing project

Raw Data from Observing Project

Course Outline

Syllabus (PS)

Syllabus (PDF)


Required:    Carroll & Ostlie, An Introduction to Astrophysics
Of interest: Shu, The Physical Universe
                 Unsold & Baschek The New Cosmos
                  Gregory & Zeilik Introductory Astronomy & Astrophysics

Preliminary Schedule:

Date Topic Suggested Readings
(Carroll & Ostlie unless noted)

Introduction (2 lectures)
L01 Feb 2 --- The Philosophy of Astrophysics (and this Course!)
L02 Feb 7 --- Definitions, Units, Coordinates

Astrophysical Laws (5 lectures)
L03 Feb 9 --- Black-Body Radiation, Thermal Equilibrium 3.1 - 3.5
L04 Feb 14 --- Radiative Transport 9.1 - 9.3
L05 Feb 16 --- Radiative Transport, Opacity, Absorption, Emission 9.1 - 9.3
--- Feb 21 --- No class (Presidents' Day) ------
L06 Feb 23 --- Gravity: Conservations Laws, Orbits 2.1 - 2.4
L07 Feb 28 --- Gravity, Virial Theorem, Tides, Hydrostatic Equilibrium 2.1 - 2.4
L08 Mar 2 --- Stars: Basic Properties, Structure 10.1 - 10.4 & 10.6

Stellar Physics (4 lectures)
L09 Mar 7 --- Stellar Evolution, the HR Diagram 8.1 - 8.2
L10 Mar 9 --- Chemical Dependence and Evolution, First Light
L11 Mar 14 --- Midterm Observing Project
L12 Mar 16 --- Star Formation and Star Death
   White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars and Black Holes
12.1 - 12.3 & 13.1 - 13.3
and Ch. 15, Ch. 16

Interstellar Medium (3 lectures)
L13 Mar 21 --- Components of the ISM 12.1 - 12.3
L14 Mar 23 --- Heating and Cooling 12.1 - 12.3
--- Mar 28 --- No class (Spring Recess) ------
--- Mar 30 --- No class (Spring Recess) ------
L15 Apr 4 --- Gas Dynamics, Shocks and Magnetic Fields

Cosmology (5 lectures)
L16 Apr 6 --- Basic Principles of Cosmology Ch. 27 and Ch. 28
L17 Apr 11 --- Models: Hot Big Bang cont.
L18 Apr 13 --- Cosmological Parameters
   Expansion rate (H0)
--- Apr 18 --- Patriot's Day
L19 Apr 20 --- Dark Matter, Accelerating universe Inflation and Concordance Cosmology cont.
L20 Apr 25 --- Large-Scale Structure, Backgrounds, Inflation cont.

Galaxies (4 lectures)
L21 Apr 27 --- Structure: Ellipticals, spirals 23.2, 23.4
L22 May 2 --- The Milky Way: Rotation curves, density waves 23.3 and Shu Ch. 12 (p. 275)
L23 May 4 --- Populations and Evolution 23.4
L24 May 9 --- Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) Ch. 26
Reading Period Begins
May 11 --- Exam Review

Remember!! There will be a Final Exam on Friday, May 27th in Boylston 103 at 9:15:00 AM. Exams are 3 hours in length and will use bluebooks. This is open notes, open book, calculators allowed.

Problem Sets

Problem sets and their solutions will be posted on this website during the term.

  • Problem Set 1 (PS)          Problem Set 1 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 2 (PS)          Problem Set 2 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 3 (PS)          Problem Set 3 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 4 (PS)          Problem Set 4 (PDF)          Data table of brightest local group galaxies

  • Problem Set 5 (PS)          Problem Set 5 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 6 (PS)          Problem Set 6 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 7 (PS)          Problem Set 7 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 8 (PS)          Problem Set 8 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 9 (PS)          Problem Set 9 (PDF)

  • Problem Set 10 (PS)          Problem Set 10 (PDF)          Basic Stellar Data Table PS | PDF          Description of magnitudes and color indices PS | PDF

    Observing Project

    We are preparing an observing project for the class which will used the small telescope on the Science Center. It will be one of several aimed at introducing students to observing and the reduction of simple digital astronomical data.
    ADS abstract service

    Generally Useful Stuff

    Astrophysics Preprints From LANL

    IRAF Notes



    Solar Model fromBahcall et al '05

    Basic Stellar Data

    Recombination Coefficients for Hydrogenic Atoms

    Distance Measures In Cosmology (PDF) by David Hogg, from astro-ph/9905116

    John P. Huchra <huchra@cfa.harvard.edu>