ASTR320 Spring 2014 (REYNOLDS)

 

Course description

class SCHEDULE

Modern astronomy has its roots firmly grounded in the fundamental principles of physics (both classical and quautum).  The goal of theoretical astrophysics is to provide physical and conceptual understanding of the diverse systems that represent our universe.  Introductory astronomy courses are often organized by scale (planets, stars, galaxies and the universe as a whole) and observational astronomy courses are often organized by wavelength because of the different technologies. To emphasize the different approach needed for developing a theoretical framework, this course is organized into themes of governing physical principles.  For each of the three main themes (gravity, gas physics and quantum physics), we start with fundamental principles and then discuss applications in various astronomical contexts.  We will also discuss systems in which several principles interact synergistically and demonstrate how astrophysical theories are developed by successive model refinements and confrontation with data.  We will show how application of simple physical laws can explain the observed properties of an astounding range of astronomical objects!


The course syllabus can be found here.

PART A : GRAVITY (NOTES)

Class 1 (1/28/2014)     : Introduction and a recap of some basics

Class 2 (1/30/2014)     : Newtonian Gravity

Class 3 (2/4/2014)       : One Body Problem - conservation laws

Class 4 (2/6/2014)       : One Body Problem - solving the equation of motion

Class 5 (2/11/2014)     : One Body Problem - derivation of Kepler’s Laws

Class 6 (2/13/2014)     : SNOW DAY

Class 7 (2/18/2014)     : One Body Problem - epicyclic motion

Class 8 (2/20/2014)     : Two Body Problem and binary systems (notes)

Class 9 (2/25/2014)     : Two+One (Restricted Three) Body Problem : Lagrange Points

Class 10 (2/27/2014)   : Two+One (Restricted Three) Body Problem : Effective Potential

Class 11 (3/4/2014)     : N-body dynamics : The Virial Theorem

Class 12 (3/6/2014)     : N-body dynamics : Applications of the Virial Theorem

Class 13 (3/11/2014)   : N-body dynamics : Two Body Relaxation

Class 14 (3/13/2014)   : MIDTERM


PART B : GAS PHYSICS (NOTES)

Class 15 (3/25/2014)  : Pressure and the concept of hydrostatic equilibrium

Class 16 (3/27/2014)  : Atmospheres in an external gravitational field

Class 17 (4/1/2014)    : Self-gravitating atmospheres

Class 18 (4/3/2014)    : Introduction to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics

Class 19 (4/8/2014)    : Statistical mechanics of an ideal gas

Class 20 (4/10/2014)  : Radiation gases

Class 21 (4/15/2014)  : Radiation gases (cont) and application to cosmology

Class 22 (4/17/2014)  : Brief introduction to hydrodynamics


PART C : QUANTUM PHYSICS (NOTES)

Class 23 (4/22/2014)  : The Bohr model of the atom

Class 24 (4/24/2014)  : Particle wave duality and the particle in a box

Class 25 (4/29/2014)  : Degeneracy pressure and white dwarfs

Class 26 (5/1/2014)    : GUEST LECTURE (Dr. Laura Blecha)

Class 27 (5/6/2014)    : Type-1a supernvovae and neutron stars

Class 28 (5/8/2014)    : Schrodinger’s approach to Quantum Mechanics

Class 29 (5/13/2014)  : The structure of the hydrogen atom

HOMEWORKS AND OTHER MATERIALS

Homework 1 (PDF, solutions)

Homework 2 (PDF, solutions)

Homework 3 (PDF, solutions)

Homework 4 (PDF, solutions)

Homework 5 (PDF, solutions)

Homework 6 (PDF, solutions)

Alex’s Midterm Study Guide (PDF)