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The College of Arts Sciences

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ASTRO 1101 : From New Worlds to Black Holes
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1103 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
"From Black Holes to undiscovered worlds" - a journey through our fascinating universe. Ever wondered about the universe? What you see in the night sky? How stars get born and how they die? How Black holes work? And if there is life out there in the universe? Join us for a journey through our fascinating universe from Black Holes to undiscovered worlds through the newest discoveries. We are made of stardust. Ad Astra.  
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ASTRO 1102 : Our Solar System
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1104 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
The past few decades have seen incredible advances in the exploration of our solar system. In this course students learn about the current state and past evolution of the Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. The course emphasizes images and other data obtained from current and past NASA space missions and how these data provide insights about the important processes that have shaped the evolution of solar system objects. General astronomical concepts relevant to the study of the solar system are also discussed. Critical focus is on developing an understanding of the Earth as a planetary body and discovering how studies of other planets and satellites influence models of the climatic, geologic, and biologic history of our home world. Other topics covered include energy production in stars, global warming, impact hazards, the search for life in the solar system and beyond, and future missions.
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ASTRO 1103 : From New Worlds to Black Holes
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1101 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Identical to ASTRO 1101 except for addition of the laboratory.
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ASTRO 1104 : Our Solar System
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1102 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Identical to ASTRO 1102 except for addition of the laboratory.
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ASTRO 1195 : Observational Astronomy
Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Provides a "hands-on" introduction to observational astronomy intended for liberal arts students. High school mathematics is assumed, but otherwise there are no formal prerequisites. The course objective is to learn how we know what we know about the Universe, and to learn how to observe with moderate cost amateur telescopes. There are two lectures and one evening laboratory per week. Typically, labs consist of 4-5 observing sessions using the Fuertes Observatory 12" telescope and a set of Meade 8" telescopes, a trip to Mount Pleasant to look through its 25" telescope and, on cloudy nights, 4-5 in-class experiments, the highlight of which is collecting micrometeorites for study.
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ASTRO 1700 : History of Exploration: Land, Sea, and Space
Crosslisted as: HIST 1700 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
From ancient seafarers to the Mars rovers, from Christopher Columbus to the Apollo astronauts, humans have for centuries explored the far reaches of our planet and are now venturing into the solar system and beyond. This course examines the history of such human activity. Among the topics covered are motives for exploration, technological advances that assist exploration, obstacles that must be overcome, the roles of leaders, the spread of information about exploration, and positive and negative consequences of exploration. It is led by Steven Squyres of Astronomy and Mary Beth Norton of History, with the assistance of guest lecturers.
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ASTRO 2201 : The History of the Universe
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
General discussion of how the universe has evolved since the Big Bang era and how our understanding of it has changed from ancient to modern times. Several main themes are covered over the course of the semester: the evolution of our view of the sky from that of ancient cultures to that of space telescopes; the formation and nature of black holes; dark matter and dark energy; and the origin, evolution, and fate of the universe. Presents a nonmathematical introduction to these subjects and discusses uncertainties and unresolved issues in our understanding.
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ASTRO 2202 : A Spacecraft Tour of the Solar System: Science, Policy and Exploration
Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Writing course designed to develop an understanding of modern solar system exploration. Discussion will center on describing our home planet as a member of a diverse family of objects in our solar system. In addition to studying what we have learned of other planets and satellites from unmanned spacecraft, we will also discuss the missions themselves and describe the process of how they are selected and developed. Guest lecturers will include political advocacy experts, NASA officials, and science team members of active NASA/ESA missions. Participants will study, debate, and learn to write critically about important issues in science and public policy that benefit from this perspective. Topics discussed include space policy, the potential for life in the ocean worlds of the outer solar system, the search for extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial intelligence, and the exploration of Mars.
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ASTRO 2211 : Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Course surveying the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang onwards: what happens in the first few minutes of the universe's life; star formation, structure, and evolution; the physics of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; galaxy formation and structure; and cosmology. The roles of quantum physics, particle physics, and relativity in astrophysics are discussed (no prior knowledge of these is assumed). The course is more in-depth than ASTRO 1101/ASTRO 1103. All course materials are made available online.
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ASTRO 2212 : The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds
Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Introduction to the solar system with emphasis on the quantitative application of simple physical principles to the understanding of what we observe or can deduce. Topics include the formation and evolution of the solar system, the interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres of the planets including the effects of greenhouse gases on climate, smaller bodies and the orbits of solar system bodies.  Many planetary systems about other stars have now been discovered and comparisons will be made with our own system. Results from past and current spacecraft missions will be discussed including the Cassini mission to the Saturn system and the Mars Rovers. Class involvement will include individual projects and presentations. The course is more in-depth than ASTRO 1102/1104. All course materials will be available online.
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ASTRO 2290 : Relativity and Astrophysics
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Provides a geometrically based introduction to special and general relativity, followed by consideration of astrophysical applications.
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ASTRO 3150 : Geomorphology
Crosslisted as: EAS 3150 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
This course is focused on a subset of the processes that can modify a planetary surface, with an emphasis on exogenic (erosional/depositional) processes.   
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ASTRO 3301 : Exoplanets & Planetary Systems
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Hundreds of planets around other stars have been discovered over the past two decades, and many more discoveries are sure to come.  How are these discoveries made and what are the properties of these exoplanets and their systems?  How exotic can we expect exoplanets to be?  Is our solar system a typical planetary system or something unusual? How common are planets like Earth?  How might we determine whether exoplanets can host life, or do host life?  These and other issues related to planetary formation and evolution will be discussed.
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ASTRO 4410 : Experimental Astronomy
Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
The course covers methods in optical and radio astronomy and selected topics in astrophysics.  Major experiments use techniques chosen from charge-coupled device (CCD) imaging, optical photometry, optical spectroscopy, radiometry and radio spectroscopy.  Observations use the Hartung-Boothroyd Observatory's 24-inch telescope and a 3.8-meter radio telescope on the roof of the Space Sciences Building.  The course covers the fundamentals of astronomical instrumentation and data analysis applied to a wide range of celestial phenomena: asteroids, main-sequence stars, supernova remnants, globular clusters, planetary nebulae, the interstellar medium, OH masers, and galaxies.  Methods include statistical data analysis, artifact and interference excision, Fourier transforms, heterodyned receivers, and software-defined radio.
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ASTRO 4431 : Physics of Stars, Neutron Stars and Black Holes
Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Major topics include: the structure and evolution of stars; solar neutrino astronomy; stellar seismology; the physics of white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes; the physics of low mass stars and connection to planets. Basic ideas in atomic and molecular physics, condensed matter physics, nuclear and particle physics, fluid mechanics and general relativity are introduced in a practical fashion that emphasizes concepts useful for understanding astrophysical phenomena.
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ASTRO 4432 : Introduction to Astrophysics and Space Sciences II
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
An overview of modern astrophysical concepts for physical science and engineering students similar in terms of level, style and prerequisites as ASTRO 4431. A previous knowledge of the ASTRO 4431 material is useful but not required. The course will include topics not covered in ASTRO 4431, such as formation of stars and planets (including exoplanets), dynamics and formation of galaxies, dark matter and cosmology, and gravitational wave astronomy. Current research problems in these areas are introduced along the way. The emphasis is on using fundamental principles of physics to explain astronomical phenomena.
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ASTRO 4445 : Introduction to General Relativity
Crosslisted as: PHYS 4445 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
One-semester introduction to general relativity that develops the essential structure and phenomenology of the theory without requiring prior exposure to tensor analysis. General relativity is a fundamental cornerstone of physics that underlies several of the most exciting areas of current research, including relativistic astrophysics, cosmology, and the search for a quantum theory of gravity. The course briefly reviews special relativity, introduces basic aspects of differential geometry, including metrics, geodesics, and the Riemann tensor, describes black hole spacetimes and cosmological solutions, and concludes with the Einstein equation and its linearized gravitational wave solutions. At the level of Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity by Hartle.
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ASTRO 6509 : General Relativity I
Crosslisted as: PHYS 6553 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
A comprehensive introduction to Einstein's theory of relativistic gravity. This course focuses on the formal structure of the theory.
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ASTRO 6510 : General Relativity II
Crosslisted as: PHYS 6554 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
A continuation of PHYS 6553 and ASTRO 6509 that covers a variety of advanced topics and applications of general relativity in astrophysics, cosmology, and high-energy physics.
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ASTRO 6511 : Physics of Black Holes, White Dwarfs, and Neutron Stars
Crosslisted as: PHYS 6525 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Compact objects (neutron stars, black holes and white dwarfs) are the endpoints of stellar evolution. They are responsible for some of the most exotic phenomena in the universe including: supernova explosions, radio pulsars, magnetars, gamma-ray bursts, neutron star and black hole mergers, gravitational radiation and so on.  Supermassive black holes also lie at the heart of the violent processes in active galactic nuclei and quasars. The study of compact objects allows one to probe physics under extreme conditions (high densities, strong magnetic fields, and gravity). This course surveys the astrophysics of compact stars and related subjects. Emphasis is on the application of diverse theoretical physics tools to various observations of compact stars. There are no astronomy or general relativity prerequisites. At the level of Physics of Black Holes, White Dwarfs, and Neutron Stars by Shapiro and Teukolsky.
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ASTRO 6523 : Modeling, Mining and Machine Learning in Astronomy
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
This course builds upon a review of probability and statistics to explore, develop, and apply algorithms for discovering objects and events in astronomical data, for inference of sophisticated models for populations of objects using frequentist and Bayesian methods, and for visualization and presentation of results to address fundamental questions using persuasive, data-based arguments.   Methods include time-series analysis; clustering, classification algorithms, genetic and Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods.
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ASTRO 6560 : Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution
Crosslisted as: PHYS 7667 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Intended to provide a systematic development of stellar astrophysics, both theory and observations. Topics include hydrostatic equilibrium; equation of state; radiation transfer and atmospheres; convection and stellar turbulence; nuclear burning and nucleosynthesis; solar neutrinos; star formation; pre-main sequence stars; brown dwarfs; end states of stellar evolution (white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes); supernovae; interacting binary stars; stellar rotation and magnetic fields; stellar pulsations; winds and outflows.
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ASTRO 6599 : Cosmology
Crosslisted as: PHYS 6599 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Intended to provide a detailed theoretical development of current ideas in cosmology. Topics include Big Bang cosmology and the universe's matter content; a cosmological chronology very early universe, symmetry breaking, inflationary scenarios, nucleosynthesis, recombination, growth of irregularities, galaxy formation and clustering, dark energy; current and future cosmological observational approaches.
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ASTRO 7690 : Computational Physics
Crosslisted as: PHYS 4480, PHYS 7680 Semester offered: Fall 2018 Instructor:
Covers numerical methods for ordinary and partial differential equations, linear algebra and eigenvalue problems, integration, nonlinear equations, optimization, and fast Fourier transforms. Find out how and why the "black-box" numerical routines you use work, how to improve and generalize them, and how to fix them when they don't. Based on the text Numerical Recipes by William H. Press, Saul A. Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling, and Brian P. Flannery.
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