Current Courses

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ASTRO 1102 : Our Solar System
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1104 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Phil Nicholson
Steven Squyres
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 1104 : Our Solar System
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1102 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Phil Nicholson
Steven Squyres
Identical to ASTRO 1102 except for addition of the laboratory.
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ASTRO 2201 : The History of the Universe
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Nicholas Battaglia
Martha Haynes
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 2211 : Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Nikole Lewis
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 2290 : Relativity and Astrophysics
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
David Chernoff
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:
Samuel Birch
Alexander Hayes
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:
Lisa Kaltenegger
Jonathan Lunine
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 4432 : Introduction to Astrophysics and Space Sciences II
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Dong Lai
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 4523 : Modeling, Mining and Machine Learning in Astronomy
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 6523 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Jim Cordes
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 4940 : Independent Study in Astronomy
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Rachel Bean
David Chernoff
Jim Cordes
Eanna Flanagan
Martha Haynes
Terry Herter
Dong Lai
James Lloyd
Richard Lovelace
Jonathan Lunine
Phil Nicholson
Marina Romanova
Steven Squyres
Gordon Stacey
Saul Teukolsky
Nicholas Battaglia
Ira Wasserman
Donald Banfield
Paul Helfenstein
Larry Kidder
Tom Loredo
Robert Sullivan
Nikole Lewis
Dominik Riechers
Alexander Hayes
Lisa Kaltenegger
Individuals work on selected topics. A program of study is devised by the student and instructor.
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ASTRO 6510 : General Relativity II
Crosslisted as: PHYS 6554 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Thomas Hartman
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 6523 : Modeling, Mining and Machine Learning in Astronomy
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 4523 Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Jim Cordes
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:
Ira Wasserman
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 6940 : Advanced Study and Research
Semester offered: Spring 2019 Instructor:
Rachel Bean
David Chernoff
Jim Cordes
Eanna Flanagan
Nicholas Battaglia
Martha Haynes
Terry Herter
Dong Lai
James Lloyd
Richard Lovelace
Jonathan Lunine
Phil Nicholson
Marina Romanova
Steven Squyres
Gordon Stacey
Saul Teukolsky
Ira Wasserman
Donald Banfield
Paul Helfenstein
Larry Kidder
Tom Loredo
Robert Sullivan
Nikole Lewis
Dominik Riechers
Alexander Hayes
Lisa Kaltenegger
Guided reading and seminars on topics not currently covered in regular courses.
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