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Ph.D. in Astrophysics Courses

  • ASTR 8001: Order of Magnitude Astrophysics (1 credit hour)
    Starting from basic physical principles, students will learn to make order-of-magnitude estimates on a wide variety of astrophysical problems. Class centers around the students working through problems together, moderated by the instructors. Course can be taken multiple times to develop problem-solving skills, physical intuition, and the ability to improvise.
  • ASTR 8010: Radiative Processes (3 credit hours)
    Electromagnetic radiation from astrophysical sources. Radiative transfer; blackbody radiation; atomic and molecular absorption and emission; radiation from moving charges; relativistic beaming; Bremsstrahlung; synchrotron radiation; Compton scattering.
  • ASTR 8030: Stellar Astrophysics (3 credit hours)
    The physics of stars. Observations of stellar properties. Equations of stellar structure; equations of state; energy generation by nuclear reactions; heat transfer by radiation, conduction and convection; opacity sources. Stellar evolution. Numerical stellar models.
  • ASTR 8040: The Structure and Dynamics of Galaxies (3 credit hours)
    The stellar, gaseous, and dark matter content of galaxies, their internal bulk properties, structure, kinematics and dynamics. Equilibrium and stability of stellar systems. Orbit theory, the gravitational N-body problem, relaxation, dynamical friction and the Fokker-Planck equation. Galaxy evolution from the standpoint of stellar populations, the initial mass function, chemical evolution and galaxy interactions.
  • ASTR 8050: Structure Formation in the Universe (3 credit hours)
    Dark matter and dark energy. Growth of linear and non-linear density fluctuations. Density and velocity fields, perturbation theory and non-linear collapse models. Cosmological N-body simulations and the formation of dark matter halos. Galaxy clustering measurements and galaxy formation physics. The physics behind experimental cosmological probes of dark matter and dark energy.
  • ASTR 8060: Methods in Observational and Computational Astronomy (3 credit hours)
    Principles and techniques including accurate measurement of astronomical distance, data handling and error analysis, computer programming. Four to six experiments such as determination of Earth’s radius, distance to the Moon, refraction by the atmosphere, distance to a star cluster. Scheduled evening sessions at Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory.
  • ASTR 8070: Astro-statistics (3 credit hours)
    Statistical and computational techniques for data-mining and inference in an astronomical context. Probability theory, comparison of frequentist and Bayesian inference. Strategies for data exploration and visualization. Approaches to regression, parameter estimation, and model selection (e.g. Markov chain Monte Carlo). Overview of time-series analysis and deep-learning techniques.
  • ASTR 8080: Astronomical Techniques: Data Mining in Large Astronomical Surveys (3 credit hours)
    The manipulation and analysis of catalog-level data from large astronomical surveys. Survey observations, cross-matching catalogs, statistical analysis, version control. Emphasis on development of code and best practices.
  • ASTR 8090: Relativistic Astrophysics (3 credit hours)
    Studying the Universe through the extreme relativistic environments of neutron stars and black holes, along with the gravitational waves they produce. Differential geometry, spacetime curvature, the Einstein Field Equations, the Schwarzschild Metric for black holes, production and detection of Gravitational Waves, and the Friedmann-Robertson-Walker metric for cosmology.


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