Institute of Astronomy

Topics in Observational Astrophysics

Part II Topics in Observational Astrophysics

Lent Term, 24 Lectures – Dr. I Parry

How observations are made (6 lectures). From gamma-ray telescopes to radio telescopes. Effect of the Earth's atmosphere. Observatories, instruments, detectors, spectrographs, adaptive optics, space-based  observatories versus ground-based observatories. Signal-to-noise. Photometric magnitude systems.

Neutron stars and pulsars (3 lectures). Origin, structure, discovery of pulsars, observed properties, evolution, beaming, magnetic fields, magnetic dipoles, pulse timing.

Gamma-ray bursts (2 lectures). Hypernovae, discovery, GRB types, energetics, observed rates, light curves, spectra, pre-cursors, remnants, radio-active decay, long and short duration types, theoretical models.

Gravitational waves (2 lectures). Detection methods. Merging black-holes. Binary neutron star mergers. Corresponding electro-magnetic radiation observations. LIGO, Virgo, LISA. Pulsar timing arrays. Primordial gravitational waves.

Active Galactic Nuclei (3 lectures). Discovery, observations, classification, energetics, the standard model, host galaxies, reverberation mapping, jets, super-luminal motion, unified models, QSO population evolution, black holes in non-AGN galaxies.

Gravitational lensing (2 lectures). Basic physics, Young diagrams, Einstein rings, critical surface mass density, strong lensing by galaxy clusters, caustics and critical lines, cluster masses, weak lensing, determining the Hubble constant, micro-lensing, constraints on halo objects.

Exoplanets (6 lectures). Discovery methods. Characterisation methods. Statistics of known exoplanets. Formation, dust belts, exo-zodii. Composition, internal structure, atmospheric composition.  The habitable zone. Future searches for bio-signatures.

Books

The Principles of Astronomical Telescope Design. Jingquan Cheng

Observational Astronomy: Techniques and Instrumentation. Edmund C. Sutton

The Physics and Astrophysics of Neutron Stars. Edited by Luciano Rezzolla, Pierre Pizzochero, David Ian Jones, Nanda Rea, Isaac Vidaña

The Physics of Gamma-Ray Bursts. Bing Zhang

Gravitational Waves, pack: Volumes 1 and 2: Volume 1: Theory and Experiment, Volume 2: Astrophysics and Cosmology: 1-2, by Michele Maggiore

The Physics and Evolution of Active Galactic Nuclei. Hagai Netzer

Principles of Gravitational Lensing: Light Deflection as a Probe of Astrophysics and Cosmology. Arthur B. Congdon and Charles R. Keeton

The Exoplanet Handbook. Michael Perryman

 

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