PREREQUISITE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS: PHY2049 or equivalent; PHY3101 or equivalent. The course will be informational rather than analytical. No previous astrophysics background is required. We will introduce all relevant information during the course. This course satisfies the 4000 level physics elective requirement for Physics BS majors.
PURPOSE OF COURSE:
To introduce students to open questions in astrophysics and current research and observational efforts to address these questions. The students will become familiar with research areas that will help them keep track of new developments and, for majors, select the most relevant research topics in the future.
TOPICS COVERED: Today's astrophysics largely focuses on extreme cosmic processes whose observations recently became available due to modern, large-scale facilities such as the LIGO gravitational wave observatory, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. The course will focus on (i) compact objects such as black holes and neutron stars, (ii) emission processes by these objects, as well as (iii) relevant modern observational strategies and observatories. Topics include core-collapse supernovae, astrophysical particle acceleration, gamma-ray bursts, gravitational-wave emission, kilonovae, and multimessenger observations.
COURSE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES:
The course will give you an understanding of some of the main, actively researched topics in astrophysics. It will give you an understanding of the frontiers, where the field is going, as well as some of the modern observational tools. Additionally, the course's objective is to prepare you for absorbing and communicating scientific work as researchers encounter it.
GRADING: The final grade will be based on homework (30%) and a final presentation on an agreed-upon topic relevant to the course material (70%).
Week 1.     Stars' end
Possible ends of stellar life cycles, including white dwarfs, core collapse, and disintegration.
Week 2.     Neutron Stars
What neutron stars are, how they are formed, and their properties. Neutron star equation of state.
Week 3.     Black holes
What black holes are, how they are formed, and their properties. Schwarzschild radius, spin, charge, mass, hair.
Week 4.     Supernovae
Types, explosion mechanisms, emission properties, remnants.
Week 5.     Accretion
Gas accretion onto black holes or neutron stars. Origin of accreted gas, geometry (Bondi/disk).
Week 6.     Astrophysical particle acceleration
Relativistic outflows, their formation, and how they accelerate particles. Cosmic rays, gamma rays, high-energy neutrinos.
Week 7.     Gamma-ray bursts
History, properties, populations.
Week 8.     Afterglow emission
Week 9.     High-energy observatories
Most important observatories that detect cosmic rays, gamma rays, and high-energy neutrinos; observation principles.
Week 10.   The high-energy Universe
What has been observed, observational techniques, open questions. Cosmic rays, gamma rays, high-energy neutrinos.
Week 11.   Gravitational waves
Definition, detection, astrophysical production.
Week 12.   Compact binaries
Formation channels, properties, eccentricity.
Week 13.   Searching for gravitational waves
Search techniques, challenges.
Week 14.   Kilonovae
...and other emission from compact binary mergers.
Week 15.   Cosmology with gravitational waves
Week 16.   Multimessenger astrophysics and open questions
DISCLAIMER: This syllabus represents the Prof. Bartos' current plans and objectives. As we go through the semester, those plans may need to change to enhance the class learning opportunity. Such changes, communicated clearly, are not unusual and should be expected.