Homepage for 171.156 (Fall 2011): Astrophysics of Compact Objects

     Marc Kamionkowski

                             Bloomberg 439
                       kamion AT pha.jhu.edu
                       office hours by appointment; email to set up a time

Class times:    Tues,Thurs, 9:00-10:15am; 276 Bloomberg

Class description:   The physics of white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, accretion disks, and their observational manifestations.

Prerequisites:  Basic undergraduate physics. It will also sometimes be assumed that you know a bit about stellar structure, but you should be able to pick up what you don't know if you haven't had a class on stellar structure.

Homework: There will be problem sets assigned the first class of every week that will be due the first class of the following week, at which point solutions will be handed out.  Completion of all the homeworks, with one exception, is required for the class. If you turn in all the problem sets, your lowest score will be dropped when we calculate the grade.   You will get the most out of the class if you make a real effort to solve all the problems by yourself.    If you are truly stuck, you may consult the literature, a classmate, local postdoc, google, or wikipedia for inspiration.  However, once you have received whatever minimal hints you need to get going,  you should then go back and solve the problems and write out the solutions entirely on your own.

Grade:     50% homework and 50% final exam.  NOTE:  Completion of ALL of the problem sets (with one exception) on time (!!), is required.

Some possibly useful books (on reserve in the library):

           Black Holes, White Dwarfs, and Neutron Stars (Shapiro and Teukolsky),

            Introduction to High-Energy Astrophysics (Rosswog and Bruggen),

            High-Energy Astrophysics, Vols 1 and 2 (Longair),

            Active Galactic Nuclei (Krolik)

            Accretion Power in Astrophysics (Frank, King, Raine).  We will be using the THIRD edition (2002)  


Lecture Notes (important note:  These notes are to remind me what to say in class.   They have not been carefully proofread, refereed, etc.  They should not be used to replace the books or original literature.  They are not guaranteed.  I provide them so that you can see what was covered in class, in case you miss lecture, or to check things that may have not been clear or legible in class.):

Lecture 1 (white dwarfs)

Lecture 2 (supernovae)

Lectures 3-5 (neutron stars)

Lecture 6 (black holes)

Lectures 7-8 (interacting binaries)

Lectures 9-10 (spherical and disk accretion)

Lectures 11-12 (CVs and X-ray binaries)

Lectures 13-15 (AGN)

Lectures 16-17 (Gamma-ray bursts)

Lecture 18 (Cosmic rays)


Sathyaprakash and Schutz's article on gravitational-wave astrophysics

Lyubarsky's review article on pulsar emission mechanisms (courtesy of A. Spitkovsky).  This looks like the best place to learn about pulsar physics.
Webbink's article on interacting binaries from Pringle and Wade's book.

Lars Bildsten's article on the physics of Type I x-ray bursts


Problem set 1 (due 6 September 2011)

Problem set 2 (due 13 September 2011)

Problem set 3 (due 22 September 2011)

Problem Set 4 (due 29 September 2011)

Problem Set 5 (due 13 October 2011)

Problem Set 6 (due 25 October 2011)

Problem Set 7 (due 1 November 2011)

Problem Set 8 (due 8 November 2011)

Problem Set 9 (due 15 November 2011)

Problem Set 10 (due 1 December 2011)

FINAL EXAM!!:  Find three contiguous hours to take some time before 5pm 12 December 2011 to take the exam.  The exam is closed book.  When you are ready to take the test, you can download it HERE.

Last updated 3 December 2011