Homepage for Ay125 (Spring 2009): High-energy astrophysics

     Marc Kamionkowski

                             Cahill 322
                       kamion AT tapir.caltech.edu
                       office hours by appointment; email to set up a time

    Samuel Lee (sklee AT astro.caltech.edu; Cahill 356; x4636)                      
Class times:    Tues,Thurs, 2:30-4pm; Cahill 219

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

FINAL EXAM:  Please set aside three hours to take the exam.  You are allowed to refer to class notes and old homeworks and solutions.  Please do not refer to books nor the internet.  The test is due by 5pm on Monday June 8.  Please turn it in to me (Cahill 322) or under my door, my mailbox (in Cahill 350), or to Shirley Hampton (Cahill 322).  When you are ready to take the test (and no sooner), click here for the final exam.

Prerequisites:  Basic undergraduate physics and the physics of radiative processes at the level of Ay121.  It will also sometimes be assumed that you've had stellar structure at the level of Ay123.

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, wikipedia, or TA 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.   hey 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)


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 9 Apr 2009)

Problem set 2 (due 16 Apr 2009)

Problem set 3 (due 23 Apr 2009)

Problem Set 4 (due 30 Apr 2009)

Problem Set 5 (due 7 May 2009)

Problem Set 6 (due 14 May 2009)

Problem Set 7 (due 21 May 2009)

Problem Set 8 (due 28 May 2009)

Last updated 1 June 2009