Homepage for Ay126 (Winter 2011): Interstellar Medium

Instructors:      Marc Kamionkowski    
                        Cahill 322
                        kamion AT tapir.caltech.edu

                        Wal Sargent
                        Cahill 374
                        wws AT astro.caltech.edu


TA:    Elisabeth Krause (ekrause AT astro.caltech.edu; x4963, Cahill 369)                      
Class times:    Mon,Wed, 10:30-noon in Cahill 211

Class description:   Physics and astrophysics of the interstellar medium

Prerequisites:  Basic undergraduate physics and the physics of radiative processes at the level of Ay121.

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.  There will be no extensions. 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, 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, and all on time (!!), is required.

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

           The Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium, A. G. G. M. Tielens (This will be the textbook.  The book has a web site, with problem sets, at http://www.cambridge.org/9780521826341)

            Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium, Sun Kwok

            Physical Processes in the Interstellar Medium, Lyman Spitzer

            Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei, Osterbrock and Ferland

            The Formation of Stars, Stahler and Palla



Useful resources/materials:

Sterl Phinney's first-week lecture notes from last year

Chris Hirata's compilation of Milky Way images

Scott Schnee's molecules slides

Jan 18 lecture slides

Chris Hirata's lecture notes on photodissociation regions

Very nice review article by Hollenbach and Tielens on photodissociation regions

Relevant/interesting recent article by Zakamska on molecular-hydrogen emission, photodissociation regions, and ULIRGs

Chris Hirata cosmic-ray lecture notes 1

Chris Hirata cosmic-ray lecture notes 2

Class lecture notes on magnetic fields and cosmic rays


First Problem Set (Due Wed 12 Jan)

Problem Set 2 (corrected 1/16; Due Wed 19 Jan)

Problem Set 3 (due Wed 26 Jan)

Problem Set 4 (due Wed 2 Feb)

Problem Set 5 (due Wed 9 Feb)

Problem Set 6 (due Wed 16 Feb)

Problem Set 7 (due Wed 23 Feb)

Problem Set 8 (due Wed 2 March)

Problem Set 9 (due 9 March)

FINAL EXAM:  The final exam is to be completed in a single sitting of no more than 4 hours.  You are allowed to used a non-programmed calculator, but no programmed calculator, computer, nor internet.  You may use the textbook as well as class notes and handouts, homework sets, and solutions.  Please turn in the exam to Marc or to Shirley Hampton by 5pm on Friday, 18 March 2011. When you are ready to take the exam (but not before!), you will find it here.

Last updated 3/10/2011