Syllabus for ASTR/PHYS 536-001 Advanced Astrophysics I

Instructor: Dinesh Loomba



This class is a 3-credit graduate course.


Meeting times: The class will meet on M,W from 9:30-10:45 in room 5 of the PandA building.


Office Hours: by appointment.


Book(s): None required but below is an (abbreviated) list of books which may be useful to you:

- Bowers and Deeming 1984, “Astrophysics I and II” (2 volumes)

- Clayton, D. 1983, "Principles of Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis"

- Binney, J. and Merrifield, M. 1998, "Galactic astronomy"

- Hansen, C.J. and Cawaler, S.D. 1994, "Stellar interiors: physical principles, structure, and evolution"
Kippenhahn, R. and Weigert, A. 1998, "Stellar Structure and Evolution"
- Chandrasekhar, S. "An introduction to the study of stellar structure"
- Chandrasekhar, S. "Radiative Transfer"
- Rybicki, G.B. and Lightman, A.P. 1979, "Radiative processes in astrophysics"

- Bohm-Vitense, E. “Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics” (3 volumes)
- Schwarzschild, M. 1958, "Structure and evolution of the stars"
Shu, F.H., "The physics of astrophysics: Gas dynamics (Vol. 2)" 
- Binney, J. and Tremain, S. 1987, "Galactic Dynamics"

- Duric, N. 2003, “Advanced Astrophysics”

- Padmanabhan, T, “Theoretical Astrophysics I, II, II”, a 3 volume set


As you can see, there are a lot of books in Astrophysics! The books by Padmanabhan are the most recent and well written, but highly theoretical. Other books on the list are fairly specialized to specific topics (e.g. radiative transfer).  Some books on the list are quite old but are included because they are classics.  I will refer to sections of books (or reviews) that form the basis of my lectures so that you may go to the source.  Additionally I have access to lecture notes in Astrophysics from various colleagues at other institutions.  I will reference them when I use them.




Graduate Students: A solid foundation of undergraduate Statistical Physics, Thermodynamics, E&M, Quantum Mechanics, and Mathematics.


Preliminary outline of the course:


Astrophysics I (536) will largely cover topics on the subject of stellar astrophysics.  Here is an approximate list that I hope to cover in chronological order:


-       Introduction to stellar systems

-       Protostar formation

-       Models of stellar structure and basic theory of stellar atmospheres

-       Thermonuclear reactions & nuclei generation

-       Stellar main sequence models

-       Post-main sequence evolution

-       Final stages of stellar systems (white dwarfs, supernovae, neutron stars, pulsars, black holes)

-       Nucleosynthesis (details of nuclei production in various stages of stellar evolution)


As noted above, this is a rough list of topics.  It is also a rather long list and we may not cover all this material during the semester.


Course grading:


a) Homeworks ~60%.  There will be assignments roughly every 2 weeks.


b) Final Project 40%  - this will consist of a term paper and a short talk given on the final paper topic.  I will discuss the project in more detail in class.


Besides these official contributions to your grade the following will also contribute to your grade:


c) During class I may suggest a problem for extra credit.


d) Questions will be raised during class-time that won't be answered to everyone's satisfaction.  Students who, by whatever means, return with additional information that sheds light on the subject will be duly rewarded!


e) Students are strongly encouraged to ask questions, express skepticism, start discussions, and in general actively participate in the course.  If there is a single motto to follow in this course, it is that there are no "dumb" questions!  If you don't ask, you won't learn so please don't be shy.








Homework assignments


HW1 due Monday 9/4 in class


HW2 due Monday 10/2 in class


HW3 due Wednesday 10/18 in class


HW4 due Wednesday 11/8 in class


HW5 due Wednesday 11/22 in class