Undergraduate Course: High Energy Astrophysics (PHYS11013)
|School||School of Physics and Astronomy
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Year 5 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The term `High Energy Astrophysics' can be interpreted in many different ways. In the most narrow sense, it refers to observations involving high energy photons, primarily X-rays and gamma-rays. In a broader and more astrophysical view, it refers to the study of objects such as supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, binary X-ray sources, gamma-ray bursts, active galactic nuclei, radio jets, and clusters of galaxies, which involve extreme conditions, like high energies, temperatures, or densities. These objects have high energy particles, even if the photons that they emit have much lower energies. This course examines the many physical processes which are important in the structure and emission of light from extreme astrophysical sources. Starting from Maxwell's equations, the classical theory of radiation from an accelerated charge is developed, and generalised to the relativistic case. Topic studied then include: synchrotron radiation from relativistic electrons gyrating in a magnetic field; the acceleration of particles to relativistic energies; Compton and inverse Compton scattering; accretion of material onto compact objects; Radio galaxies and quasars, and their jets; bremsstrahlung emission from hot gas; cooling flows and the role of black holes in galaxy formation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
|| It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed
||Other requirements|| At least 80 credit points accrued in courses of SCQF Level 9 or 10 drawn from Schedule Q.
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
| Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:
1) From Maxwell's equations, derive and solve wave equations for the electrostatic and magnetic vector potentials.
2) Derive and apply Larmor's formula, and discuss the effects of enhanced energy loss and beaming of radiation for charges moving relativistically.
3) Demonstrate understanding of four-vectors, the summation convention, and invariants, and apply these to problems in astrophysical radiation mechanisms.
4) Derive the properties of Bremsstrahlung radiation, and use these to demonstrate understanding of astrophysical phenomena.
5) Describe the physical process of diffusive shock acceleration and compute the properties of the accelerated particle distribution.
6) Explain the origin of synchrotron radiation, derive its properties, and show how these can be used to derive physical parameters of astrophysical objects.
7) Identify the emission mechanism at work in a variety of astrophysical objects, and draw conclusions as to their properties.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Philip Best
|Course secretary||Miss Paula Wilkie
Tel: (0131) 668 8403