PHY 29: Introduction to Astrophysics         Fall 2017

Class Schedule: M W 5:00pm-6:20pm (Pell 209) Professor: Steve Liebling
Classroom: Pell Hall 209 Office:  Pell Hall 210
Text: Ostlie & Carroll's An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics 2nd Edition Office Hours: M W 1:00-2:00pm and by appt.
Web: Phone: 299-3439
Pre-requisites: PHY 3, 4, & 19; MATH 9 (or co-requisite) Email:
Course credit: 3 credit-hours

Course Description: This course studies a variety of astronomical processes and structures using a physical approach to understanding the dynamics. Topics include stellar evolution, galaxy structure, cosmology, as well as various high energy events such as supernovae and gamma ray bursts.

Course Objective: The objectives for the class are for students to: (i) understand and appreciate the application of a range of physics (optics, electricity & magnetism, relativity, etc) to astronomical processes, and (ii) learn about the structure and dynamics of the universe.

Grading Policy:

Homework 25%
Test 1 25%  
Test 2 25%
Final Exam 25%
Extra Credit: There will be no extra credit or extra credit papers, Do the homework, and take the tests. As the semester progresses, there is less and less to be done to increase your grade.

Homework: Homework assignments will be presented in class and will generally consist of problems from the required text. Homework problems must be done in order to gain mastery of the material and skills necessary for the tests.

Tests: The class will have two tests as indicated on the syllabus. Each test will cover the material presented since the previous test (to be precise, much of what we will learn applies throughout all the chapters, however, the questions will be geared towards specifically covering material presented between the tests). The tests will be given during classtime.

Final: The final will be held during the time dictated by the Registrar during Exam Week.

Cheating: You are encouraged to work on homework problems with others, but what you turn in must be your own work in your own words. However, you must work alone on tests. On exams you may use only a calculator and writing utensils; I will give you a copy of the equation sheet linked above.

Other Resources: Tutors, library books, office hours, and supplemental texts. I'd also recommend the books from my course for nonscientists, especially the quantum mechanics and relativity books.

Syllabus: Below is the anticipated schedule of what we'll cover. Near the end of the semester, I generally have flexibility in what we cover. If you have a preference for what we might cover, please feel free to provide feedback.

Week 1 Sept. 6 The Celestial Sphere   Ch. 1 HW1: 4, 5
Week 2 Sept. 11 Celestial Mechanics  Ch. 2 HW2: 1, 4, 6a-c, 12;
Show Eq. (2.2) holds generally;
Compute freq. at which 2
solar mass NSs orbit if separated by 1 AU
Sept. 13   Ch. 2  
Week 3 Sept. 18 The Continuous Spectrum of Light   Ch. 3 (selected)   HW3: 3a, 5a, 8
Sept. 20   Ch. 3 
Week 4 Sept. 25 The Interaction of Light and Matter  Ch. 5 (selected)   HW5: 1a, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12
Sept. 27 Test 1  Test 1 
Week 5 Oct. 2 Telescopes   Ch. 6   HW6: 7, 12
Oct. 4 The Classification of Stellar Spectra   Ch. 8   HW8: 15;
Line Spectra and
HR Diagrams Exercises
Week 6 Oct. 9 NO Class Columbus Day
Oct. 11 The Interior of Stars   Ch. 10   HW10: 13b, 14
Week 7 Oct. 16 Main Sequence and Post-Main-Seq. Stel. Ev.   Ch. 13   HW13: 2, 8
Oct. 18   Chs. 8, 10, & 13  
Week 8 Oct. 23 The Fate of Massive Stars   Ch. 15   HW15: 3, 12, 15, 17
Oct. 25 The Degenerate Remnants of Stars  Ch. 16  HW16: 9, 10, 12, 14, 21, 24
Week 9 Oct. 30   Ch. 16  
Nov. 1   Review  
Week 10 Nov. 6 Test 2  Test 2 
Nov. 8 The Structure of the Universe  Ch. 27  
Week 11 Nov. 13    Ch. 27  
Nov. 15  Active Galaxies   Ch. 28  
Week 12 Nov. 20 Cosmology   Ch. 29  
Nov. 22 Nov. 22 NO Class
Week 13 Nov. 27   Ch. 29  
Nov. 29 The Early Universe   Ch. 30  
Week 14 Dec. 4 No class, online assignment     PBS's The Ghost Particle  
Dec. 6   No class, online assignment     PBS's The Runaway Universe  
Week 15 Dec. 11   Ch. 30 and Review for Final  
Dec. 13   Snow/Study Day  
Dec. 14-20 12/18 M 5-6:20pm   Final Exam  

Last updated Nov. 2, 2017.
Steve Liebling (home)