Syllabus: Fall 2006
Course Description and Prerequisites :
This course, together with ASTR 3830 in the Spring, form a year-long
introduction to Astrophysics. The aim is to show how basic
phyical principles can be applied to understand a variety of
astrophysical objects and phenomena. The first part of the course
will be devoted to a study of the physics of photon emission and
absorption. We will then move on to study the process of stellar
evolution, from the birth of stars to their death. This will lead us to
cover an exotic range of objects such as white dwarfs, neturon stars
and black holes. Finally, in the last part of the course, we will
discuss star clusters and the structure of the Milky Way galaxy, which
will pave the way to the study of other galaxies and cosmology in ASTR
3830 in the Spring.
No prior knowledge of astronomy is assumed. However, basic
physics and algebra will be used extensively. Whenever more
advanced physics concepts are required, they will be appropriately
The course textbook is "An
Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution" by
Dina Prialnik. This text covers the second part of the course on
stars, but it does not cover the first part on radiation
processes. For this part, you may find useful to consult "Radiative Processes in Astrophysics"
Rybicki & Lightman (this is however rather more technical than what required for this course), and "Astrophysical Concepts" by Harwit. Also useful
is the textbook "An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics" by Carroll & Ostlie. Class attendance is highly recommended.
Photocopies of the lecture notes will be handed out before each new
topic is started.
Course Requirements and
Homeworks: There will be regular problem
sets, which will be returned graded and with solution set. These
homeworks will make up 40% of the final grade. You are welcome to
work in groups if you like.
There will be
three in-class tests,
tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4, Nov. 3, and Dec. 13.
Each test will cover about 1/3 of the course material. These
tests will make up 40% of your final grade.
Term Paper: You are
expected to submit a term paper (of about 8-10 pages or less,
word-processed and double-spaced, plus a list of references
consulted), by Fri. Nov. 17. You are free to choose the topic of your
provided that it relates to the material covered in the course.
Grading of the papers will depend on: clarity of writing, relevance to
major themes of the course, your demonstrated understanding of the
material discussed, and use of references (printed and/or Web-based)
other than the assigned textbooks. The paper will make up 20% of your