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UIMS

Advanced Topics in Astrophysics

Eight (8) modules of 6 lectures each will be devoted to advanced topics in astrophysics which will cover concepts and recent research progress. Note that these modules are taught by researchers at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research which is a joint venture of UWA and Curtin University. Double lectures are given at ICRAR Fairway/UWA (Ground floor seminar room) and ICRAR Brodie-Hall/Curtin (seminar room). For location, see www.icrar.org/contact. Lectures are on Mondays at 2-4pm.

2011 Semester 1

Module 1: Radiation Processes - I (J-P Macquart ICRAR/Curtin)
  Feb 28, Mar 7, Mar 14 (ICRAR/Brodie-Hall, Curtin)

Module 2: Radiation Processes - II (Leith Godfrey ICRAR/Curtin)
 Mar 21, Mar 28, Apr 4 (ICRAR/Brodie-Hall, Curtin)

Module 3: Line Emission - (Lister Staveley-Smith ICRAR/UWA)
 Apr 11, Apr 18, May 2 (ICRAR/Fairway, UWA)

Module 4: Astrophysical Shocks - (Chris Power ICRAR/UWA)
 May 9, May 16, May 23 (ICRAR/Fairway, UWA)

2011 Semester 2

Module 5: Advanced Radio Astronomy - (Cormac Reynolds ICRAR/Curtin)
  (ICRAR/Brodie-Hall, Curtin)

Module 6: Galactic Dynamics - (Kenji Bekki ICRAR/UWA)
  (ICRAR/Fairway, UWA)

Module 7: Space Electrodynamics - (Ron Burman UWA)
  (ICRAR/Fairway, UWA)

Module 8: TBA (Compact Objects) (Curtin)
  (ICRAR/Brodie-Hall, Curtin)

Previous 2010 modules

  • 1. Advanced Radio Astronomy Techniques (Phil Diamond/JBO and Maria Rioja/ICRAR/UWA)
  • 2. Radiation Mechanisms - I (J.-P. Macquart ICRAR/Curtin)
  • 3. Radiation Mechanisms - II (J.-P. Macquart ICRAR/Curtin)
  • 4. The Dynamics of our Milky Way (Ken Freeman ANU)

Previous 2009 modules

  1. Radio Astronomy Techniques (Lister Staveley-Smith, Richard Dodson and Maria Rioja)

    Week 8: April 20, 22 and 24
    Week 9: April 28, 29 and May 1

    This module provides an overview of radio astronomy techniques and a discussion of research topics to which they can be applied. The first section introduces the basic principals of single dish radio astronomy, including dish and receiver design. Observational applications will then be discussed, with an emphasis on the 21cm line of neutral hydrogen and its use as a tracer of gas content and galaxy kinematics. The next part will cover the basics of Multi-dish Radio Astronomy (including the Van Citter-Zernike theorem and Fourier Imaging), stressing the fundamental differences between connected arrays (e.g. ATCA) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI; e.g. LBA). We will cover the major differences between interferometers (both connected array and VLBI) and single dishes, emphasizing the areas where each type of instrument is superior.
  2. Galaxies and Cosmology (Simon Driver)

    Week 10: May 4, 6 and 8
    Week 11: May 11, 13 and 15

    In this module we introduce the student to the optical properties of galaxies including their morphology, spectral properties and flux profiles. We will then describe the basic dynamics of rotating and pressure supported galaxy structures and how this information can be used to determine direct distance estimates up to distances of 100 Megaparsecs. In the cosmology section a brief insight will be provided as to how distances are calculated in an expanding Universe and the distinction between proper, luminosity, and angular diameter distances. At the end of the course students should be able to understand how basic observations of galaxies through optical spectrographs and optical imaging cameras can be used to provide information on the distances and sizes of galaxy systems and how astronomers construct 3D maps of the cosmos.
  3. Radiation Mechanisms and Active Galactic Nuclei (Ravi Subrahmanyan and Lakshmi Saripalli)

    Week 12: May 18, 20 and 22
    Week 13: May 25, 27 and 29

    The module starts with an introduction to processes in light-matter interaction and mechanisms that result in radiation from active galaxies. Particle-particle and particle-field radiation mechanisms including inverse-Comption, bremsstrahlung and synchrotron are covered with astrophysical examples. Active galaxies have some of the most spectacular beasts in the universe and result from extreme physical processes at their galaxy nuclei. The activity within a millionth of a light-year of their centres manifests in phenomena several hundred times larger than the size of the host galaxy. The lectures will cover the observed properties of active galaxies and how one unravels the geometry and makeup of the very central regions where all the activity is located, the physics of the 'central engine', the derivation of the black hole mass, properties of the accretion disk. Taking a specific class of active galaxies, an introduction will be given to the world of radio galaxies and quasars.
  4. The Dynamics of our Milky Way (Ken Freeman)

    The Milky Way, in which we live, is a large spiral galaxy. Most of its visible mass is in stars, so its visible properties are dominated by the dynamics of the stars which make up its bulge and disk. We can learn a great deal about how the Milky Way came together long ago from the early universe by studying the detailed motions and chemical properties of its stars. This discipline, known as near-field cosmology, is a very active research area, with many massive observation projects under way to attack the big problems of the formation and evolution of the Milky Way. This module of 6 lectures starts with an overview of the Milky Way, focussing on some of its important properties which we do not yet understand. A theoretical section follows on the fundamental dynamics of stars in spiral galaxies. Finally I will discuss the goals and likely products of the main ongoing projects which are now under way internationally to attack these problems.

Previous 2008 modules

  1. Radio Astronomy Techniques (Martin Meyer and Richard Dodson): This module provides an overview of radio astronomy techniques and a discussion of research topics to which they can be applied. The first section introduces the basic principals of single dish radio astronomy, including dish and receiver design. Observational applications will then be discussed, with an emphasis on the 21cm line of neutral hydrogen and its use as a tracer of gas content and galaxy kinematics. The first part of the module concludes with a summary of current research in this field. The second part will cover the basics of Multi-dish Radio Astronomy (including the Van Citter-Zernike theorem and Fourier Imaging), stressing the fundamental differences between connected arrays (e.g. ATCA) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI; e.g. LBA). We will cover the major differences between interferometers (both connected array and VLBI) and single dishes, emphasizing the areas where each type of instrument is superior. We will cover our recent results on methanol masers using each of these types of instruments to highlight, with a practical example, the strengths of each.
  2. The Dynamics of our Milky Way (Ken Freeman): The Milky Way, in which we live, is a large spiral galaxy. Most of its visible mass is in stars, so its visible properties are dominated by the dynamics of the stars which make up its bulge and disk. We can learn a great deal about how the Milky Way came together long ago from the early universe by studying the detailed motions and chemical properties of its stars. This discipline, known as near-field cosmology, is a very active research area, with many massive observation projects under way to attack the big problems of the formation and evolution of the Milky Way. This module of 6 lectures starts with an overview of the Milky Way, focussing on some of its important properties which we do not yet understand. A theoretical section follows on the fundamental dynamics of stars in spiral galaxies. Finally I will discuss the goals and likely products of the main ongoing projects which are now under way internationally to attack these problems.
  3. Galaxies, Supernovae and Cosmology: (Lister Staveley-Smith and Peter Quinn): This module focusses on galaxies and cosmology, understanding the relationship between the Milky Way and external galaxies, and the nature of galaxy evolution. We discuss supernovae, including their fundamental role in distance estimation, determining the 'equation-of-state' of the Universe, and their relationship with the chemical evolution of galaxies. We discuss interactions and their relationship with the dynamical and morphological evolution of galaxies. Finally, we discuss modern cosmology and explore the current paradigm, its successes and limitations.

Previous 2007 Modules

  1. Galaxies and Supernovae (Lister Staveley-Smith): Nearby galaxies have a large range of properties ranging from the massive objects in the centres of clusters, to the tiny satellites dotted around the Milky Way. In these lectures, we will discuss the properties of nearby galaxies, their interactions, the local distance scale and some of the techniques used to measure the distances to galaxies. We will also discuss the phenomenon of supernovae which are the end result of the formation of massive stars. Supernovae are responsible for depositing heavy elements and cosmic rays into the interstellar medium, are major neutrino factories, and a subset are useful in establishing the distances to very distant galaxies and the measurement of the geometry of the Universe. We will also discuss some of the radio astronomical techniques used to observe galaxies and supernovae.
  2. Active Galaxies (Lakshmi Saripalli): Active galaxies have some of the most spectacular physical properties of any galaxy type. These are indicative of extreme processes occurring at their very centre. In some cases the activity on scales of nearly a millionth of a light-year at their centres is known to also manifest itself on scales that are several hundred times the sizes of the galaxies. The lectures will cover radiation mechanisms (synchrotron, Thomson, Compton, inverse Compton), the properties and geometry of active galaxies, the central black hole mass, and the properties of the accretion disk.
  3. Cosmological Physics (Peter Quinn):How did the variety of galaxies seen in the nearby Universe arise? Has the mix of galaxy types, sizes and distributions changed over cosmic time? Do galaxies evolve or are they truly "island universes"? These are some of the fundamental questions that have been asked by astronomers since Edwin Hubble first established that spiral nebulae were galaxies, just like the Milky Way, seen at great distances. We will review attempts to build a complete picture of galaxy formation in the context of modern cosmology. In particular, we will review our knowledge of dark matter and dark energy, the two most significant components of our Universe and the role they play in the evolution and dynamics of galaxies. We will also touch on the "fossil record" of galaxy building uncovered in existing and future observations of the stellar and gaseous content of galaxies.
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