Lent Term, 24 Lectures – Prof. C J Clarke and IoA/Physics staff
How do astronomers make deductions about the important physical processes operating in the Universe when they are forced to play the role of passive observer rather than active experimentalist? Despite all the complicated analytical machinery that has been developed to process astronomical data and to perform complex theoretical simulations, there is still a vital role in astrophysics for the order of magnitude estimate in order to sort out the relative importance of different physical effects. This is a skill that is rarely taught and one that is not always easily acquired, even though its mastery generally involves little more than the physics that is taught in the first two years of an undergraduate education.
This course aims to teach a set of skills by looking at a large range of astrophysical phenomena on scales from exoplanets to quasars. The issues to be discussed span well established astronomical truths (and how we know them) as well as a range of topics that are still at the forefront of debate. The lectures will provide an immersion in topics in contemporary astrophysics but the examinable content of the course - and the supervision problem sets - do not involve significant factual recall of the lecture content; instead these exercises are designed to develop clear thinking and the ability to make intelligent deductions from information presented.
The scheduling of lecture topics may occasionally deviate slightly from what is set out below except in the case of the Guest Lectures
Lecture 1-3: Timescales and Distributions
Lecture 4: Guest Lecture: C. Tout Type IA Supernovae
Lectures 5-9 Tides and Dynamics
Lecture: 10 Guest Lecture: M. Wyatt The Formation of the Moon
Lecture 11: Guest Lecture: V. Belokurov Tidal stripping in action: the field of streams
Lecture 12-15: Physics of matter and radiation
Lecture 16: Guest Lecture: A. Fabian The radiation physics of AGN
Lectures 17-18: The physics of feedback
Lecture 19: Guest Lecture: D. Sijacki Feedback, AGN and galaxy formation
Lecture 20-21: Guest Lecture: D. Queloz The discovery of extrasolar planets
Lectures 22-24: Unsolved problems in star and planet formation
There are no textbooks to support the course. However for students who are interested in learning more about some of the topics covered, the following books (in addition to those supporting other Part II Astro. courses) are recommended:
P. Armitage, The Astrophysics of Planet Formation, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Frank, J., King, A., Raine, D., Accretion Power in Astrophysics, Cambridge University Press, 2002.
F. Mellia High Energy Astrophysics, Princeton University Press, 2009.
D. Ward-Thompson & A. Whitworth, An Introduction to Star Formation, Cambridge University Press, 2011.
|Handout1 - slides||16.11 MB|
|Handout2 - slides||28.09 MB|
|Facts and relations.pdf||34.38 KB|
|C Tout Type1A Supernovae||366.29 KB|
|M Wyatt Moon||9.5 MB|
|V Belokurov guest lecture Streams||13.33 MB|
|PoA Examples Sheet 1||521.53 KB|
|PoA Examples Sheet 2||50.77 KB|
|PoA handwritten notes 1 2017||4.31 MB|
|PoA handwritten notes 2 2017||7.13 MB|