Concepts of Astrophysics I

Astronomy 421 (Fall 2013) is intended for advanced (senior level) undergraduates, and is also counted as an elective for graduate students. This course covers the structure and evolution of stars, starting off with some basic physics including mechanics, radiation, atomic structure and relativity. We will then concentrate on stars for most of the remainder of the semester, examining their atmospheres, their interiors, stellar evolution, and stellar remnants (including black holes). In Astronomy 422 we will examine the properties of the interstellar medium, galaxies, large scale structure, and cosmology. A major emphasis of the course will be to instruct you on how to think (and write) like a scientist. We will have an exercise in peer review and a term paper. You will also present your research topic to the class, but this will be for practice in giving talks, and will not be graded. There will be no final exam.

Instructor: Prof. Greg Taylor, PandA Room 180, phone 277-5238, email
TA: Sophia Cockrell,
Time and place: Tu/Th 9:30 AM-10:45 AM
Room 5, Physics & Astronomy Building
Syllabus and course web page:
Lectures in PDF format:
Textbook: An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, B.W. Carroll & D.A. Ostlie, 2nd Edition.
Prerequisites: Physics 330 or 491, 492 or their equivalent.
Exams and Grades: Your final grade will be determined through three sectional exams (each 20% of the grade), eight sets of homework (20%) and a term paper (20%). There will be no final exam.

Some useful links:
Science Daily's website for astronomy news
Greg Taylor's home page
Search engines for articles: ADS database,   Astro-ph
Example of term paper outline and final write-up. The outline and paper will of course be different depending on your topic, but by writing an outline we will be able to make sure that you work on the relevant pieces from the beginning. And you should study the example to see what all the parts are and the level of detail desired.

Code for statstar.f

Lecture schedule - updated 10/1/13

Date Topic Chapter
Tu Aug 20 Course Introduction, Mechanics I 1,2
Th Aug 22 Mechanics II 2, 19.2
Tu Aug 27 Radiation and Matter I 3
Th Aug 29 Radiation and Matter II
Homework 1 due
Tu Sep 3 Special Relativity I
Term paper topics due
Th Sep 5 Special Relativity II
Homework 2 due
4, 17.2
Tu Sep 10 Binary Stars
Th Sep 12 Spectral Lines
Homework 3 due
3, 8
Tu Sep 17 Review 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
Th Sep 19 Exam 1 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
Tu Sep 24 Telescopes 6
Th Sep 26 Stellar Atmospheres I
Tu Oct 1 Stellar Atmospheres II
Th Oct 3 Stellar Atmospheres III
Homework 4 due
Tu Oct 8 Stellar Interiors I
Term paper outline due
Th Oct 10 Fall Break
Tu Oct 15 Stellar Interiors II 10
Th Oct 17 Stellar Evolution I
Homework 5 due
Tu Oct 22 Review
6, 8, 9, 10
Th Oct 24 Exam 2 6, 8, 9, 10
Tu Oct 29 Stellar Evolution II
Th Oct 31 Stellar Evolution III
13, 15
Tu Nov 5 Stellar Remnants: White Dwarfs
Homework 6 due
Th Nov 7 Stellar Remnants: Black Holes
Tu Nov 12 Peer Review Exercise
Homework 7 written reports due
Th Nov 14 Stellar Remnants: Neutron Stars 16
Tu Nov 19 Stellar Explosions: GRBs and Magnetars
Homework 8 due
Th Nov 21 Review

Tu Nov 26 Exam 3 10, 13, 15, 16, 17
Th Nov 28 Thanksgiving
Tu Dec 3 Term paper presentations: Cordova, Perry, Kring, Longwell, Luna
Th Dec 5 Term paper presentations: Eftekhari, Cross, Vinci, McCrackan, McGeorge
Fr Dec 6 Written papers Due by 12:00pm MDT