Astrophysics (Ay) Graduate Courses (2017-18)
Ay 101. Physics of Stars. 11 units (3-2-6): second term. Physics of stellar interiors and atmospheres. Properties of stars, stellar spectra, radiative transfer, line formation. Stellar structure, stellar evolution. Nucleosynthesis in stars. Stellar oscillations. Instructor: Kirb.
Ay 102. Physics of the Interstellar Medium. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. An introduction to observations of the inter-stellar medium and relevant physical processes. The structure and hydrodynamic evolution of ionized hydrogen regions associated with massive stars and supernovae, thermal balance in neutral and ionized phases, star formation and global models for the interstellar medium. Instructor: Hillenbran.
Ay/Ph 104. Relativistic Astrophysics. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. This course is designed primarily for junior and senior undergraduates in astrophysics and physics. It covers the physics of black holes and neutron stars, including accretion, particle acceleration and gravitational waves, as well as their observable consequences: (neutron stars) pulsars, magnetars, X-ray binaries, gamma-ray bursts; (black holes) X-ray transients, tidal disruption and quasars/active galaxies and sources of gravitational waves. Instructor: Kasliwa.
Ay 105. Optical Astronomy Instrumentation Lab. 10 units (1-5-4): third term. An opportunity for astronomy and physics undergraduates (juniors and seniors) to gain firsthand experience with the basic instrumentation tools of modern optical and infrared astronomy. The 10 weekly lab experiments include radiometry measurements, geometrical optics, polarization, optical aberrations, spectroscopy, CCD characterization, vacuum and cryogenic technology, infrared detector technology, adaptive optics (wavefront sensors, deformable mirrors, closed loop control) and a coronography tuturial. Instructor: Mawet.
Ay 111 a. Introduction to Current Astrophysics Research. 3 units: first term. This course is intended primarily for first-year Ay graduate students, although participation is open and encouraged. Students are required to attend seminar-style lectures given by astrophysics faculty members, describing their research, to attend the weekly astronomy colloquia, and to follow these with additional readings on the subject. At the end of each term, students are required to summarize in oral or written form (at the discretion of the instructor), one of the covered subjects that is of most interest to them. Instructor: Hallina.
Ge/Ay 117. Bayesian Statistics and Data Analysis. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. In modern fields of planetary science and astronomy, vast quantities of data are often available to researchers. The challenge is converting this information into meaningful knowledge about the universe. The primary focus of this course is the development of a broad and general tool set that can be applied to the student's own research. We will use case studies from the astrophysical and planetary science literature as our guide as we learn about common pitfalls, explore strategies for data analysis, understand how to select the best model for the task at hand, and learn the importance of properly quantifying and reporting the level of confidence in one's conclusions. Instructor: Knutson.
Ay 119. Methods of Computational Science. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Open to graduate and upper-division undergraduate students in all options. Practical computational science methods useful in disciplines dealing with large and/or complex data sets. Topics include: Scientific databases and archives; data mining and exploration; data visualization techniques; practical techniques for physical modeling, including numerical and stochastic models; data sharing over networks, Web services, computational and data grids; design and understanding of scientific computational systems and experiments, and good software practices. Not offered 2017-18.
Ay 121. Radiative Processes. 9 units (3-0-6): first term. The interaction of radiation with matter: radiative transfer, emission, and absorption. Compton processes, coherent emission processes, synchrotron radiation, collisional excitation, spectroscopy of atoms and molecules. Instructor: Phinne.
Ay 122 abc. Astronomical Measurements and Instrumentation. 9 units (3-0-6): first term (a), second term (b). Measurement and signal analysis techniques througout the electromagnetic spectrum. Courses may include lab work and field trips to Caltech observatories. Ay 122a concentrates on infrared, optical, and ultraviolet techniques: telescopes, optics, detectors, photometry, spectroscopy, active/adaptive optics, coronography. Imaging devices and image processing. Ay 122b concentrates on radio through submillimeter techniques: antennae, receivers, mixers, and amplifiers. Interferometers and aperture synthesis arrays. Signal analysis techniques and probability and statistics, as relevant to astronomical measurement. Ay 122c (not offered 2017-18) concentrates on X-ray through gamma-ray techniques. Instructors: (a) Howard, Mawet, (b) Hallinan, Kulkarni.
Ay 123. Structure and Evolution of Stars. 9 units (3-0-6): first term. Thermodynamics, equation of state, convection, opacity, radiative transfer, stellar atmospheres, nuclear reactions, and stellar models. Evolution of low- and high-mass stars, supernovae, and binary stars. Instructor: Fulle.
Ay 124. Structure and Dynamics of Galaxies. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. Stellar dynamics and properties of galaxies; kinematics and dynamics of our galaxy; spiral structure; stellar composition, masses, and rotation of external galaxies; star clusters; galactic evolution; binaries, groups, and clusters of galaxies. Instructor: Hopkin.
Ay 125. High-Energy Astrophysics. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. High-energy astrophysics, the final stages of stellar evolution; supernovae, binary stars, accretion disks, pulsars; extragalactic radio sources; active galactic nuclei; black holes. Instructors: Hopkins, Kulkarn.
Ay 126. Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Physical processes in the interstellar medium. Ionization, thermal and dynamic balance of interstellar medium, molecular clouds, hydrodynamics, magnetic fields, H II regions, supernova remnants, star formation, global structure of interstellar medium. Instructor: Steide.
Ay 127. Cosmology and Galaxy Formation. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. Cosmology; extragalactic distance determinations; relativistic cosmological models; galaxy formation and clustering; thermal history of the universe, microwave background; nucleosynthesis; cosmological tests. Instructors: Phinney, Steide.
Ge/Ay 132. Atomic and Molecular Processes in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6): first term. Fundamental aspects of atomic and molecular spectra that enable one to infer physical conditions in astronomical, planetary, and terrestrial environments. Topics will include the structure and spectra of atoms, molecules, and solids; transition probabilities; photoionization and recombination; collisional processes; gas-phase chemical reactions; and isotopic fractionation. Each topic will be illustrated with applications in astronomy and planetary sciences, ranging from planetary atmospheres and dense interstellar clouds to the early universe. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017-18. Instructor: Blake.
Ge/Ay 133. The Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Review current theoretical ideas and observations pertaining to the formation and evolution of planetary systems. Topics to be covered include low-mass star formation, the protoplanetary disk, accretion and condensation in the solar nebula, the formation of gas giants, meteorites, the outer solar system, giant impacts, extrasolar planetary systems. Instructors: Batygin, Knutson.
Ge/Ay 137. Planetary Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. A quantitative review of dynamical processes that characterize long-term evolution of planetary systems. An understanding of orbit-orbit resonances, spin-orbit resonances, secular exchange of angular momentum and the onset of chaos will be developed within the framework of Hamiltonian perturbation theory. Additionally, dissipative effects associated with tidal and planet-disk interactions will be considered. Instructor: Batygin.
Ay 141 abc. Research Conference in Astronomy. 3 units (1-0-2): first, second, third terms. Oral reports on current research in astronomy, providing students an opportunity for practice in the organization and presentation of technical material. A minimum of two presentations will be expected from each student each year. In addition, students are encouraged to participate in a public-level representation of the same material for posting to an outreach website. This course fulfills the option communication requirement and is required of all astronomy graduate students who have passed their preliminary exams. It is also recommended for astronomy seniors. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: (a) Sargent; (b) Fuller; (c) Fulle.
Ay 142. Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Units in accordance with work accomplished: . The student should consult a member of the department and have a definite program of research outlined. Approval by the student's adviser must be obtained before registering. 36 units of Ay 142 or Ay 143 required for candidacy for graduate students. Graded pass/fail.
Ay 143. Reading and Independent Study. Units in accordance with work accomplished: . The student should consult a member of the department and have a definite program of reading and independent study outlined. Approval by the student's adviser must be obtained before registering. 36 units of Ay 142 or Ay 143 required for candidacy for graduate students. Graded pass/fail.
Ge/Ay 159. Planetary Evolution and Habitability. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. Photochemistry of planetary atmospheres, comparative planetology, atmospheric evolution. What makes Earth habitable? Remote sensing of extrasolar planets, biosignatures. Given in alternate years; offered 2017-18. Instructor: Yung.
Ay 190. Computational Astrophysics. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. Introduction to essential numerical analysis and computational methods in astrophysics and astrophysical data analysis. Basic numerical methods and techniques; N-body simulations; fluid dynamics (SPH/grid-based); MHD; radiation transport; reaction networks; data analysis methods; numerical relativity. Not offered 2017-18.
Ay/Ge 198. Special Topics in the Planetary Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Topic for 2015-16 is Extrasolar Planets. Thousands of planets have been identified in orbit around other stars. Astronomers are now embarking on understanding the statistics of extrasolar planet populations and characterizing individual systems in detail, namely star-planet, planet-planet and planet-disk dynamical interactions, physical parameters of planets and their composition, weather phenomena, etc. Direct and indirect detection techniques are now completing the big picture of extra-solar planetary systems in all of their natural diversity. The seminar-style course will review the state of the art in exoplanet science, take up case studies, detail current and future instrument needs, and anticipate findings. Instructors: Howard, Mawe.
Ay 211. Contemporary Extragalactic Astronomy. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Topics in extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, including observational probes of dark matter and dark energy; cosmological backgrounds and primordial element abundances; galaxy formation and evolution, including assembly histories, feedback and environmental effects; physics of the intergalactic medium; the role of active galactic nuclei; galactic structure and stellar populations; future facilities and their likely impact in the field. Not offered 2017-18.
Ay 215. Seminar in Theoretical Astrophysics. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. Course for graduate students and seniors in astronomy. Topic for 2017-18 will be astronomical transients (with an emphasis on optical and infrared transients), including supernovae, novae, tidal disruption events, stellar mergers, superluminous supernovae, transients in the luminosity gap between novae and supernovae. Students will be required to lead some discussions. Instructor: Kasliwal/Phinne.
Ay 218. Extrasolar Planets. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Not offered 2017-18.
Ay 219. Elements in the Universe and Galactic Chemical Evolution. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. Survey of the formation of the elements in the universe as a function of cosmic time. Review of the determination of abundances in stars, meteorites, H II regions, and in interstellar and intergalactic gas. Overview of models of galactic chemical evolution. Participants will measure elemental abundances from the Keck spectrum of a star and construct their own numerical chemical evolution models. Not offered 2017-18.