Astronomy 601: Fall 2012

Ionization from First Galaxies (Ricotti 2002) 

"Radiative Processes"

The production and propagation of radiation and its application in a variety of astrophysical contexts.


    Instructor:  Massimo Ricotti
    Class:       room CSS 0201
    Lectures:    Tuesday and Thursday 
                 12:30pm to 1:45pm
    First class: Th Aug 30
    Last  class: Tu Dec 11

Contact info and Notes

I will keep a copy of the lecture notes (hand written notes kindly provided by Eve Ostriker) in the mail room. Please return the notes after you are done with them so that other students will be able to use them too. If you need help or have questions you can reach me here:

Course Description

The emission, absorption and scattering of radiation by matter with astrophysical applications. Emphasis on basic theory and problem-solving.

  1. Radiative transfer: specific intensity, transfer equation, opacity, diffusion, scattering.
  2. Statistical mechanics of matter and radiation: LTE, level populations, rate equations.
  3. Electrodynamics: Maxwell equations, spectra of radiation, polarization, dipole and multipole radiation, Thompson scattering.
  4. Plasma radiation: bremsstrahlung and synchrotron emission, Compton scattering, EM wave propagation in plasmas.
  5. Atomic and molecular radiation: energy levels, Einstein coefficients, oscillator strengths, line broadening.
  6. Textbooks

    The Physics of Astrophysics Volume I: Radiation by F.H. Shu
    Radiative Processes in Astrophysics by G. Rybicki and A. Lightman

    Course Grading

    • Homework 50%
    • Midterm Exam 20%
    • Final Exam 30%

    There will be one in-class Midterm exam (tentatively scheduled on Oct 18th) and an in-class Final (on Tuesday, Dec 18 1:30pm-3:30pm, see Final Exam Schedule Fall 2012. Class participation is strongly encouraged. Class attendance is instead required.

    Policies and course outline

    You can download the Syllabus in pdf format here: ASTR601_Syl12.pdf

    Lecture 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.

    You can download the Numerical Recipes subroutine for random number generation here: ran0.f (FORTRAN 77)

    Course Evaluation

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    Past Midterm and Final Exams


    • Cole Miller's lecture NOTES for ASTR601