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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: High Energy Astrophysics (PHYS11013)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe 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.
Course description Syllabus:

- Recap of Maxwell's Equations
- Radiation from accelerating charges (Larmor formula)
- Bremsstrahlung emission
- Applications to clusters of galaxies
- Shocks and particle acceleration
- Synchrotron radiation
- Compton Scattering and Inverse Compton Scattering
- Applications to radio galaxies and AGN
- Superluminal motions and beaming
- Pulsars
- Supernovae and Gamma Ray Bursts
- Microquasars
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Astrophysics (PHYS10102)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements At least 80 credit points accrued in courses of SCQF Level 9 or 10 drawn from Schedule Q.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 61 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 100 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Degree Examination, 100%
Feedback There will be opportunities for feedback on progress during all tutorial sessions. In addition, there will be a hand-in question associated with each tutorial sheet which will be fully marked and one-to-one feedback given.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate understanding of four-vectors, the summation convention, and invariants, and apply these to problems in astrophysical radiation mechanisms.
  2. Use Maxwell's equations to derive and solve wave equations for the electrostatic and magnetic vector potentials, derive and apply Larmor's formula, and discuss the effects of enhanced energy loss and beaming of radiation for charges moving relativistically.
  3. Derive the properties of Bremsstrahlung radiation, and use these to demonstrate understanding of astrophysical phenomena.
  4. Describe the physical process of diffusive shock acceleration, explain the origin and properties of synchrotron radiation, and show how these can be used to derive physical parameters of astrophysical objects.
  5. Identify the emission mechanism at work in a variety of astrophysical objects, and draw conclusions as to their properties.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Philip Best
Tel: (0131 6)68 8358
Course secretaryMiss Stephanie Blakey
Tel: (0131 6)68 8261
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