F34EXT: Extreme Astrophysics

Summary: This module explores the physical processes involved in the most extreme environments known to astronomy. Among the objects studied are neutron stars, black holes, supernova explosions, galaxy clusters and active galactic nuclei.

Aims and objectives: The aims are: to develop an understanding of high-energy phenomena in astrophysics, and the relative importance of different emission processes in different situations; to formulate and study models of extreme astrophysical sources and environments based on physical theory; to interpret observational data in the light of relevant physical theory.

Prerequisites: This is a level three physics course. Students who have taken no other astronomy modules are advised to consult the module convenor about preparatory reading material.

Course Outline:

Suggested books for the module:

The course notes are intended to be comprehensive, but you may find some of the following helpful:

High Energy Astrophysics Vol 1 & Vol 2 by Malcolm Longair (CUP, 1997) is the most suitable book for the course, but does not cover all of the required material.
Introduction to Modern Astrophysics by Carroll & Ostlie (Addison-Wesley, 1996) contains many useful chapters, and also serves as an excellent introduction to astronomy and astrophysics.
Radiative Processes in Astrophysics by Rybicki & Lightman (Wiley Pub.) covers some of the topics at quite an advanced level.
Accretion Power In Astrophysics , J. Frank, A.King and D. Raine (CUP, 1985) gives a comprehensive description and mathematical analysis of accretion processes.
Active Galactic Nuclei. From the black hole to the galactic environment by J. Krolik (Princeton Series in Astrophysics, 1999) is rather advanced and mathematical, but it contains some useful sections.
Cosmological Physics by J.A. Peacock (CUP, 1999) contains some useful reference material.

Lectures: Tuesday 9am (C12) and Wednesday 12pm (C12)

Office Hours: Wednesday 2-4pm (or feel free to email Prof Almaini)

Lecture notes: Hardcopies of the lecture notes will be distributed in class, and also made available on Moodle. These contain gaps for problems and derivations, which will be covered in class.

Problem Sheets: Will be available for download via Moodle once the material is covered. Solutions will be released few weeks later.

Useful online tools: Astrophysical Calculator.

Formula sheet:
You will be provided with a formula sheet in the exam. The version from 2012 is available as a pdf file here

Last update by Omar Almaini January 20 2013