# Astronomy 320: Spring 2015

# Theoretical Astrophysics

Modern astronomy has its roots firmly grounded in the fundamental principles of physics (both classical and quantum). Furthermore, many branches of physics as we know them today trace their origins to the search for universal physical laws to explain natural phenomena discovered and analyzed by astronomers.

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!

I will assume a basic knowledge of astronomical concepts (up to the ASTR120/ASTR121 level) as well as basic physics (up to the PHYS270/PHYS271/PHYS273 level)

#### Schedule

Instructor: Massimo Ricotti Class: CSS 0201 Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00pm to 12:15pm First class: Tue Jan 27 Last class: Tue May 12 TA: Blake Hartley Discussion (w/Blake): Wednesday from 2:00pm to 2:50pm First discussion: Wed Feb 4th

#### What's New?

March 3: Guest Lecturer: Doug Hamilton will talk about the Virial theorem and a cool application to Globular Clusters. |

Feb 26: Problem Set #3 posted (due March 6th in order to practice for the Midterm: it is a Friday...put it in my mailbox or office). |

Feb 26: Snow day ... again (no class) |

Feb 19: Problem Set #2 posted (due Feb 26th). |

Feb 17: Snow day (no class) |

Feb 3: Problem Set #1 posted (due Feb 12). |

Jan 28: No discussion session on Wed 28 Jan |

Jan 27: First class |

#### Contact info and Notes

- Office: PSC 1156
- E-mail: ricotti "at" astro "dot" umd "dot" edu
- Phone: (301) 405 5097
- Office hours: TBD or by appointment
- Class web page: http://www.astro.umd.edu/~ricotti/NEWWEB/teaching/ASTR320_15.html
- TA: Blake Hartley
- E-mail: bth "at" astro "dot" umd "dot" edu

#### Course Outline

The Syllabus is available in PDF format (updated version that fixes a typo on the date of the exams).

Date | Lecture | |
---|---|---|

GRAVITY (notes) | ||

#1 | Jan 27 | Introduction; Recap of Newton’s laws and the conservation of momentum |

#2 | Jan 29 | Newtonian gravity |

#3 | Feb 3 | One body problem - conservation laws and constants of motion |

#4 | Feb 5 | One body problem - solving the equation of motion |

#5 | Feb 10 | One body problem - derivation of Kepler's Laws |

#6 | Feb 12 | One body problem - cont. |

#7 | Feb 17 | Snow Day (class cancelled) |

#8 | Feb 19 | Two-body problems and binary systems (notes) |

#9 | Feb 24 | Two + one (restricted three) body problem - Lagrange points and effective potential |

#10 | Feb 26 | Snow Day (class cancelled) |

#11 | Mar 03 | N-body dynamics - the virial theorem |

#12 | Mar 05 | N-body dynamics - two body relaxation |

- | Mar 10 | MIDTERM (in class) |

GAS PHYSICS (notes) | ||

#13 | Mar 12 | Pressure and the concept of hydrostatic equilibrium |

- | Mar 17 | SPRING BREACK |

- | Mar 19 | SPRING BREACK |

#14 | Mar 24 | Atmospheres in an external gravitational field |

#15 | Mar 26 | Self-gravitating atmospheres |

#16 | Mar 31 | Introduction to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics |

#17 | Apr 02 | Statistical mechanics of ideal gas |

#18 | Apr 07 | Radiation gases |

#19 | Apr 09 | Radiation gases (cont) and applications to Cosmology |

#20 | Apr 14 | Brief introduction to hydrodynamics |

QUANTUM PHYSICS (notes) | ||

#21 | Apr 16 | The Bohr model of the atom |

#22 | Apr 21 | Particle wave duality and particle in a box |

#23 | Apr 23 | Fermions and bosons; Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein statistics |

#24 | Apr 28 | Degeneracy pressure and while dwarf |

#25 | Apr 30 | Type-1a supernovae and neutron stars |

#26 | May 05 | Schrodinger’s approach to Quantum Mechanics |

#27 | May 07 | The structure of the hydrogen atom |

#28 | May 12 | Review |

- | May 14 | Final exam (in class, Thursday 8:00am-10:00am |

#### Textbooks

- There are no required textbooks
- Texts Recommended for this course are:
- Astrophysics for Physicists, by Arnab Rai Choudhuri,

(Cambridge University Press, 2010) ISBN-13: 978-0521815536 - Astrophysics in a Nutshell, by Dan Maoz,

(Princeton University Press, 2007) ISBN-13: 978-0691125848 - Class participation 10%
- Homework 30%
- Midterm exam 25%
- Final exam 35%
- A 100% - 90%
- B 89.9% - 80%
- C 79.9% - 70%
- D 69.9% - 60%
- F below 60%
- Problem related to perturbation theory (Bungee Cord) Note: we skipped perturbation theory in class, hence this topic will NOT be on the Midterm or Final

#### Course Grading

#### Homework

Homework will be assigned every week or every other week. Their due dates will be announced at the time they are assigned. On the due date the students will be expected to turn in their homework in class. The homework turned in will be graded and returned to the students. I will provide solutions and discuss them in class.

Problem set | Date | Problem Set | Extras | |

Assigned | Due | |||

#1 | Feb 3 | Feb 12 | PDF | |

#2 | Feb 19 | Feb 26 | PDF | |

#3 | Feb 28 | March 6(Friday) | PDF |

#### Wiki pages related to class's discussions

Class #1 | |

Class #2 | |

Discussion Section #7 | |

Class #8 | |

Class #9 |