Homepage for Ay121 (Fall 2007): Radiative Processes

Instructor: Marc Kamionkowski

Bridge Annex 120

x2563

[email protected]

.

TAs: Walter Max-Moerbeck

Robinson 053

x6350

[email protected]

and

Yacine Ali-Hamoud

Robinson 053

[email protected]

The purpose of this class will be to learn about the various physical processes that produce the radiation (radio, IR, optical, UV, x-ray, gamma-ray) that we see from a variety of astrophysical sources.

**Class times:** Tuesdays and Thursdays. 1-2:30pm, Robinson 105

**Class structure: ** The class will follow very
closely the textbook by Rybicki

and Lightman, with some additions from elsewhere.

**Prerequisites:** This is a class on astrophysical
applications of electrodynamics,
special relativity, quantum mechanics (atomic physics),
and some very basic
optics, and it is assumed that you have studied these
subjects at the advanced undergraduate level. In particular, you
should be familiar and have some facility with special relativity
(Lorentz transformations), Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic
waves, statistical mechanics (Maxwell-Boltzman, Fermi-Dirac, and
Bose-Einstein distributions), quantum mechnics including the hydrogen
atom and perturbation theory. If any of these subjects are
not familiar to you, please see the instructor or a TA for suggestions
on background reading.

**Homework: ** There will be problem sets assigned
almost weekly. I*t is imperative*
*that you do these problem sets. *This
class is meant to provide you with valuable
tools that can be applied in all areas of astronomy (and
physics). Moreover, since
class time is limited, there will be some topics that
you work out on your own in
the problem sets. Iwill try to find problem sets that
involve application of the subjects studied in class, and I will try to
avoid problems that involve excessive and pointless algebra. You
should first try to do all of the problems by yourself. If you run
into trouble, you may consult with classmates and attempt to work out the
problems together. However, when you have figured out the solution,
you should go your separate ways and then each write up the solutions from
scratch.

Problem sets are due in class; there will be no extensions granted, and there will be no credit given for late homeworks. In return for being diligent about turning in problem sets on time, solutions will be handed out the day the problem sets are due.

**Grade: **50% homework, 50% final exam. The final exam will be closed book and closed notes.
To help you study, the
test problems will be picked from a list of Rybicki and
Lightman problems that
will be provided well before the test.

**Required Text:** *Radiative Processes
for Astrophysics *by Rybicki and Lightman

**Additional Suggested Text: ***
Interpreting Astronomical Spectra*** **by Emerson

**Some other related and possibly useful books (on reserve
in the astronomy library):**

*The
Physics of Astrophysics, Vol 1: Radiation *by Frank Shu

(lectures notes on the subject)

*Molecules
and Radiation*, by Seinfeld (about molecules)

*Spectroscopy
of astrophysical plasmas,* ed by Dalgarno and Layzer

(a collection of review articles on astrophysical spectroscopy;

in particular, a good article on x-ray spectroscopy by McCray)

*Astrophysics
of gaseous nebula*, Donald E. Osterbrock

*Classical
electrodynamics*, John David Jackson (EM text)

*The
classical theory of fields,* L.D. Landau,
(EM text)

*Galactic
and extragalactic radio astronomy,*

*Principles
of modern physics,* Robert B. Leighton

*Radio
astrophysics: nonthermal processes... ,*A.G. Pacholczyk

*Stellar
atmospheres*, Dimitri Mihalas

*Theory
of stellar spectra,* V.V. Sobolev

Relevant Library Web Pages:

Caltech Library Services webpage

Ay121 course reserves

**Syllabus**

Here is a list of problems from which the final-exam problems will be chosen.

Homework 1, due in class, 11 October 2007Homework 2, due in class, 18 October 2007

Homework 3, due 25 October 2007

Homework 4, due 1 November 2007

Homework 5, due 8 November 2007

Homework 6, due 15 November 2007

Homework 7, due 29 November 2007

Homework 8, due 11 December 2007

FINAL EXAM: The final exam is a 3-hour closed-book exam. You can do the exam anytime between now and 5pm on Tues, Dec. 18. When you have three contiguous hours and are ready to take the exam, you can download it here.

last update: 7 December 2007