Courses - Fall 2018

ASTRO 1101 From New Worlds to Black Holes

"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.  

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lisa Kaltenegger (lk433)
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ASTRO 1103 From New Worlds to Black Holes

Identical to ASTRO 1101 except for addition of the laboratory.

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lisa Kaltenegger (lk433)
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ASTRO 1195 Observational Astronomy

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.

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Gordon Stacey (gjs12)
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ASTRO 1700 History of Exploration: Land, Sea, and Space

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.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Mary Norton (mbn1)
Steven Squyres (sws6)
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ASTRO 2202 A Spacecraft Tour of the Solar System: Science, Policy and Exploration

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.

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Hayes (agh4)
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ASTRO 2212 The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds

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.

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Phil Nicholson (pdn2)
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ASTRO 4410 Experimental Astronomy

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.

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jim Cordes (jmc33)
James Lloyd (jl554)
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ASTRO 4431 Physics of Stars, Neutron Stars and Black Holes

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.

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ira Wasserman (imw2)
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ASTRO 4445 Introduction to General Relativity

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.

Distribution: (PBS-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Liam McAllister (lm432)
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ASTRO 4940 Independent Study in Astronomy

Individuals work on selected topics. A program of study is devised by the student and instructor.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Rachel Bean (reb55)
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ASTRO 6509 General Relativity I

A comprehensive introduction to Einstein's theory of relativistic gravity. This course focuses on the formal structure of the theory.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Thomas Hartman (th447)
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ASTRO 6511 Physics of Black Holes, White Dwarfs, and Neutron Stars

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.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Dong Lai (dl57)
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ASTRO 6599 Cosmology

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.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Nicholas Battaglia (nb572)
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ASTRO 6940 Advanced Study and Research

Guided reading and seminars on topics not currently covered in regular courses.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Rachel Bean (reb55)
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ASTRO 7690 Computational Physics

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.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Saul Teukolsky (sat4)
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