Professor/InstructorMichael Abram Strauss, Anatoly Spitkovsky
This specially designed course targets the frontier of modern astrophysics. Subjects include the planets of our solar system; the birth, life, and death of stars; the search for extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life; the zoo of galaxies from dwarfs to giants, from starbursts to quasars; dark matter and the large-scale structure of the universe; Einstein's special and general theory of relativity, black holes, neutron stars, and big bang cosmology. This course is designed for the non-science major and has no prerequisites past high school algebra and geometry. High school physics would be useful.
Topics in Modern Astronomy
Professor/InstructorJoshua Nathan Winn
The solar system and planets around other stars; the structure and evolution of stars; supernovae, neutron stars, and black holes; gravitational waves; the formation and structure of galaxies; cosmology, dark matter, dark energy, and the history of the entire universe. Prerequisites: PHY 103 or 105 and MAT 103 or 104 or equivalent. Compared to AST 203, this course employs more mathematics and physics. Intended for quantitatively-oriented students.
Planets in the Universe
Professor/InstructorGáspár Áron Bakos
This is an introductory course in astronomy focusing on planets in our Solar System, and around other stars (exoplanets). The course starts with reviewing the formation, evolution and characterization of the Solar system. Following an introduction to stars, the course will then discuss the exciting new field of exoplanets; discovery methods, basic properties, earth-like planets, and extraterrestrial life. Core values of the course are quantitative analysis and hands-on experience, including telescopic observations. This SEN course is designed for the non-science major and has no prerequisites past high school algebra and geometry.
A Guided Tour of the Solar System
Professor/InstructorThomas S. Duffy
Examines the major bodies of our solar system, emphasizing their surface features, internal structures, and atmospheres. Topics include the origin of the solar system, habitability of planets, and the role of impacts in planetary evolution. Terrestrial and giant planets will be studied as well as satellites, comets, and asteroids. Recent discoveries from planetary missions are emphasized. This course is aimed primarily at non-science majors. Three lectures, this course is normally taught in the fall.
Life in the Universe
Professor/InstructorChristopher F. Chyba
This course introduces students to a new field, Astrobiology, where scientists trained in biology, chemistry, astrophysics and geology combine their skills to investigate life's origins and to seek extraterrestrial life. Topics include: the origin of life on earth, the prospects of life on Mars, Europa, Titan, Enceladues and extra-solar planets, as well as the cosmological setting for life and the prospects for SETI. AST 255 is the core course for the planets and life certificate.
Professor/InstructorJohn Jeremy Goodman
This is an introductory course in general relativity for undergraduates. Topics include the early universe, black holes, cosmic strings, worm holes, and time travel. Designed for science and engineering majors. Two 90-minute lectures. Prerequisites: MAT 201 and 202, OR MAT 203 and 204. Also PHY 205 or 207. PHY 304 is recommended.
Deciphering the Universe: Research Methods in Astrophysics
Professor/InstructorPeter Michael Melchior, Matthew Walter Kunz
How do we observe and model the universe? We discuss the wide range of observational tools available to the modern astronomer: from space-based gamma-ray telescopes, to globe-spanning radio interferometers, to optical telescopes and particle detectors. We review basic statistics, introduce techniques used to interpret modern data sets containing millions of galaxies and stars, and describe numerical methods used to model these data. The course is problem-set-based and focused on tools needed for independent research in astrophysics. PHY103/104 or 105/106, and MAT103/104 required. AST204 and programming experience are helpful but not required.
The Science of Fission and Fusion Energy
Professor/InstructorRobert James Goldston
We develop the scientific ideas behind fission and fusion energy. For fission we move from elementary nuclear physics to calculations of chain reactions, understanding how both reactors and nuclear weapons work. We examine safety and waste concerns, as well as nuclear proliferation. We look at new reactor concepts. For fusion we address the physics of confining hot, ionized gases, called plasmas. We address the control of large-scale instabilities and small-scale turbulence. We examine progress and prospects, as well as challenges, for the development of economically attractive fusion power.
Planetary Systems: Their Diversity and Evolution
Examines the diversity of recently discovered planetary systems in terms of fundamental physical and chemical processes and what this diversity implies about the origin and evolution of our own planetary system. Topics include: the formation and dynamics of planets and satellites, planetary migration, the evolution of planetary interiors, surfaces and atmospheres, the occurrence of water and organics, and the habitability of planets and planetary systems. Recent discoveries from planetary missions and extrasolar planet observations are emphasized. Prerequisites: GEO 207, 255, or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures.
Professor/InstructorNeta A. Bahcall
Topics include the properties and nature of galaxies, quasars, clusters, superclusters, the large-scale structure of the universe, dark matter, dark energy, the formation and evolution of galaxies and other structures, microwave background radiation, and the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to today. Two 90-minute lectures. Prerequisites: MAT 201, 202; PHY 207, 208. Designed for science and engineering majors.
Stars and Star Formation
Professor/InstructorEve Charis Ostriker
Stars form from the interstellar medium (ISM), and the nuclear fusion that powers stars is also the main energy source in the ISM. This course discusses the structure and evolution of the ISM and stars. Topics include: physical properties and methods for studying ionized, atomic, and molecular gas in the ISM; dynamics of magnetized gas flows and turbulence; gravitational collapse and star formation; structure of stellar interiors; radiation transport; production of energy by nucleosynthesis; stellar evolution and end states; effects of stars on interstellar environment. Prerequisites: MAT 201, 202; PHY 208, 301 or permission of instructor.
Software Engineering for Scientific Computing
The goal of this course is to teach basic tools and principles of writing good code, in the context of scientific computing. Specific topics include an overview of relevant compiled and interpreted languages, build tools and source managers, design patterns, design of interfaces, debugging and testing, profiling and improving performance, portability, and an introduction to parallel computing in both shared memory and distributed memory environments. The focus is on writing code that is easy to maintain and share with others. Students will develop these skills through a series of programming assignments and a group project.
Dynamics of Stellar and Planetary Systems
Professor/InstructorJohn Jeremy Goodman
Discussion of observations of stars in the solar neighborhood, the overall structure of our galaxy, and external galaxies; stellar populations and the evolution of the stellar content of galaxies; dynamical theory of the equilibrium and stability of stellar systems; and relaxation, dynamical friction, and the introduction to the Fokker-Planck equation; evolution of N-body systems.
Structure of the Stars
Professor/InstructorAdam S. Burrows
Theoretical and numerical analysis of the structure of stars and their evolution. Topics include a survey of the physical process important for stellar interiors (equation of state, nuclear reactions, transport phenomena); macroscopic properties of stars and their stability; evolution of single and binary stars; mass loss and accretion of matter; and accretion disks. Emphasis is given to numerical modeling of various types of stars.
Diffuse Matter in Space
Professor/InstructorBruce T. Draine
Subject of course is the astrophysics of the interstellar medium: theory and observations of the gas, dust, plasma, energetic particles, magnetic field, and electromagnetic radiation in interstellar space. Emphasis will be on theory, including elements of: fluid dynamics; excitation of atoms, molecules and ions; radiative processes; radiative transfer; simple interstellar chemistry; and physical properties of dust grains.The theory will be applied to phenomena including: interstellar clouds (both diffuse atomic clouds and dense molecular clouds); HII regions; shock waves; supernova remnants; cosmic rays; interstellar dust; and star formation.
Professor/InstructorMichael Abram Strauss, Jenny E. Greene
A survey course covering the principal current areas of research on extragalactic objects, their physical properties, origin, evolution, and distribution in space. Topics covered include quasar physics, formation, evolution, and clustering of galaxies and the general problem of large-scale structure and motion in the universe.
Numerical Algorithms for Scientific Computing
A broad introduction to scientific computation using examples drawn from astrophysics. From computer science, practical topics including processor architecture, parallel systems, structured programming, and scientific visualization will be presented in tutorial style. Basic principles of numerical analysis, including sources of error, stability, and convergence of algorithms. The theory and implementation of techniques for linear and nonlinear systems of equations, ordinary and partial differential equations will be demonstrated with problems in stellar structure and evolution, stellar and galactic dynamics, and cosmology.
Seminar in Theoretical Astrophysics
Designed to stimulate students in the pursuit of research. Participants in this seminar discuss critically papers given by seminar members. Ordinarily, several staff members also participate. Often topics are drawn from published data that present unsolved puzzles of interpretation.
Seminar in Observational Astrophysics
Professor/InstructorJoshua Nathan Winn
Students will prepare and deliver presentations and lead discussion about topics of current interest in observational astrophysics and techniques.
General Plasma Physics I
Professor/InstructorNathaniel J. Fisch, Hong Qin
This is an introductory course to plasma physics, with sample applications in fusion, space and astrophysics, semiconductor etching, microwave generation: characterization of the plasma state, Debye shielding, plasma and cyclotron frequencies, collision rates and mean-free paths, atomic processes, adiabatic invariance, orbit theory, magnetic confinement of single-charged particles, two-fluid description, magnetohydrodynamic waves and instabilities, heat flow, diffusion, kinetic description, and Landau damping. The course may be taken by undergraduates with permission of the instructor.
General Plasma Physics II
Ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MDH) equilibrium, MHD energy principle, ideal and resistive MHD stability, drift-kinetic equation, collisions, classical and neoclassical transport, drift waves and low-frequency instabilities, high-frequency microinstabilities, and quasilinear theory.
Plasma Waves and Instabilities
Professor/InstructorIlya Yevgenyevich Dodin
Hydrodynamic and kinetic models of nonmagnetized and magnetized plasma dispersion; basic plasma waves and their applications; basic instabilities; mechanisms of collisionless dissipation; geometrics-optics approximation, including ray tracing, field-theoretical description of continuous waves, and ponderomotive effects; conservation laws and transport equations for the wave action, energy, and momentum; mode conversion; quasilinear theory.
Irreversible Processes in Plasmas
Professor/InstructorMatthew Walter Kunz
Introduction to theory of fluctuations and transport in plasma. Origins of irreversibility, Random walks, Brownian motion and diffusion, Langevin and Fokker-Planck theory. Fluctuation-dissipation theorem; test-particle superposition principle. Statistical closure problem. Derivation of kinetic equations from BBGKY hierarchy and Klimontovich formalism; properties of plasma collision operators. Classicaal transport coefficients in magnetized plasmas; Onsager symmetry. Introduction to plasma turbulence, including quasilinear theory. Applications to current problems in plasma research.
Fusion Plasmas & Plasma Diagnostics
Professor/InstructorPhilip Charles Efthimion, Richard P. Majeski, Yevgeny Raitses
This course gives an introduction to experimental plasma physics, with an emphasis on high-termperature plasmas for fusion. Requirements for fusion plasmas: confinement, beta, power and particle exhaust. Tokamak fusion reactors. Status of experimental understanding: what we know and how we know it. Key plasma diagnostic techniques: magnetic measurements, Langmuir probes, microwave techniques, spectroscopic techniques, electron cyclotron emission, Thomson scattering.
Analytical Techniques in Differential Equations
Local analysis of solutions to linear and nonlinear differential and difference equations. Asymptotic methods, asymptotic analysis of integrals, perturbation theory, summation methods, boundary layer theory, WKB theory, and multiple scale theory. Prerequisite: MAE 306 or equivalent.