# Astronomy 320: Spring 2017

# Theoretical Astrophysics

Modern astronomy has its roots firmly grounded in the fundamental principles of physics (both classical and quantum). Furthermore, many branches of physics as we know them today trace their origins to the search for universal physical laws to explain natural phenomena discovered and analyzed by astronomers.

The goal of theoretical astrophysics is to provide physical and conceptual understanding of the diverse systems that represent our universe. Introductory astronomy courses are often organized by scale (planets, stars, galaxies and the universe as a whole) and observational astronomy courses are often organized by wavelength because of the different technologies. To emphasize the different approach needed for developing a theoretical framework, this course is organized into themes of governing physical principles. For each of the three main themes (gravity, gas physics and quantum physics), we start with fundamental principles and then discuss applications in various astronomical contexts. We will also discuss systems in which several principles interact synergistically and demonstrate how astrophysical theories are developed by successive model refinements and confrontation with data. We will show how application of simple physical laws can explain the observed properties of an astounding range of astronomical objects!

I will assume a basic knowledge of astronomical concepts (up to the ASTR120/ASTR121 level) as well as basic physics (up to the PHYS270/PHYS271/PHYS273 level)

#### Schedule

Instructor: Massimo Ricotti Class: CSS 2416 Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00pm to 12:15pm First class: Thu Jan 26 Last class: Thu May 11 TA: Blake Hartley Reading session (w/Blake): Wednesday from 2:00pm to 2:50pm First reading session: Wed Jan 25

#### What's New?

Jan 26: First class |

Jan 25: Reading session (introduction of Blake Hartley) |

#### Contact info and Notes

- Office: PSC 1156
- E-mail: ricotti "at" astro "dot" umd "dot" edu
- Phone: (301) 405 5097
- Office hours: Wed 1:00pm-2:00pm or by appointment
- Class web page: http://www.astro.umd.edu/~ricotti/NEWWEB/teaching/ASTR320_17.html
- TA: Blake Hartley
- E-mail: bth "at" astro "dot" umd "dot" edu

#### Course Outline

The Syllabus is available on ELMS and here PDF format.

Date | Lecture | |
---|---|---|

GRAVITY (notes) | ||

#1 | Jan 26 | Introduction; Recap of Newton’s laws and the conservation of momentum |

#2 | Jan 31 | Newtonian gravity |

#3 | Feb 2 | One body problem - conservation laws and constants of motion |

#4 | Feb 7 | One body problem - solving the equation of motion |

#5 | Feb 9 | Discovery of Gravitational Waves |

#6 | Feb 14 | One body problem - cont. |

#7 | Feb 16 | One body problem - derivation of Kepler's Laws |

#8 | Feb 21 | Two-body problems and binary systems (notes) |

#9 | Feb 23 | Two + one (restricted three) body problem - Lagrange points and effective potential |

#10 | Feb 28 | N-body dynamics - the virial theorem |

#11 | Mar 2 | N-body dynamics - applications of the virial theorem |

#12 | Mar 7 | N-body dynamics - two body relaxation |

- | Mar 9 | MIDTERM (in class) |

GAS PHYSICS (notes) | ||

#13 | Mar 14 | Pressure and the concept of hydrostatic equilibrium |

#14 | Mar 16 | Atmospheres in an external gravitational field |

- | Mar 21 | SPRING BREACK |

- | Mar 23 | SPRING BREACK |

#15 | Mar 28 | Self-gravitating atmospheres |

#16 | Mar 30 | Introduction to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics |

#17 | Apr 4 | Statistical mechanics of ideal gas |

#18 | Apr 6 | Radiation gases |

#19 | Apr 11 | Radiation gases (cont) and applications to Cosmology |

#20 | Apr 13 | Brief introduction to hydrodynamics |

QUANTUM PHYSICS (notes) | ||

#21 | Apr 18 | The Bohr model of the atom |

#22 | Apr 20 | Particle wave duality and particle in a box |

#23 | Apr 25 | Fermions and bosons; Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein statistics |

#24 | Apr 27 | Degeneracy pressure and while dwarf |

#25 | May 2 | Type-1a supernovae and neutron stars |

#26 | May 4 | Schrodinger’s approach to Quantum Mechanics |

#27 | May 9 | The structure of the hydrogen atom |

#28 | May 11 | Review |

- | May 13 | Final exam (in class, Saturday 8:00am-10:00am) |

#### Textbooks

- There are no required textbooks
- Texts Recommended for this course are:
- Astrophysics for Physicists, by Arnab Rai Choudhuri,

(Cambridge University Press, 2010) ISBN-13: 978-0521815536 - Astrophysics in a Nutshell, by Dan Maoz,

(Princeton University Press, 2007) ISBN-13: 978-0691125848 - Class participation 10%
- Homework 30%
- Midterm exam 25%
- Final exam 35%
- A 100% - 90%
- B 89.9% - 80%
- C 79.9% - 70%
- D 69.9% - 60%
- F below 60%
- Problem related to perturbation theory (Bungee Cord) Note: we skipped perturbation theory in class, hence this topic will NOT be on the Midterm or Final

#### Course Grading

#### Homework

Homework will be assigned every week or every other week (total of 6 homework). Their due dates will be announced at the time they are assigned. On the due date the students will be expected to turn in their homework in class. The homework turned in will be graded and returned to the students. I will provide solutions and discuss them in class.

*I will post the HOMEWORK and solutions on ELMS/i>*

#### Wiki pages related to class's discussions

Class #1 | |

Class #2 | |

Discussion Section #7 | |

Class #8 | |

Class #9 | |

Class #24 and #25 |