Astronomy 452H

Astrophysics II:Galaxies

Spring 2014


Time: MW 2:30-3:45pm

Room: Lederle 1334

Instructor:    Professor Alexandra Pope

       LGRT-B 620


               pope AT

       Office hours: Monday 12:30-2:30 (or by appointment)

Course website:

Textbook: “Galaxies in the Universe: An Introduction” 2nd edition, Linda S. Sparke & John S. Gallagher III, Cambridge University Press 2007, ISBN-13 978-0-521-67186-6

(for errors see

Supplemented with sections from Carroll & Ostlie (textbook for A335)

Course description:

“The application of physics to the understanding of astronomical phenomena related to galaxies. Dynamics and structure of stellar systems: the virial theorem and Jeans' equations and their applications; galaxy rotation and the presence of dark matter in the universe; spiral density waves. The stellar content of galaxies: star formation and the principle of stellar population synthesis. Physical processes in the gaseous interstellar medium: photoionization and HII regions and emission lines; shocks in supernova remnants and stellar jets; energy balance in molecular clouds. Quasars and active galactic nuclei: synchrotron radiation; accretion disks; supermassive black holes. Students are involved in the course in discussion, oral presentations, and lab projects. The course is being taught at a higher level than a non-honors course, and a strong background in physics and math is required.”

Prerequisites: 4 semesters of physics. PHYSIC 421 (Mechanics) or equivalent strongly recommended; proficiency in calculus (differentiation, integration, differential equations).

Grades:     Final exam (cumulative)                 25%

Assignments (5)                                                 30%

Quizzes (5)                                                         25%

Final project                                                       20%

Final project: You will choose a journal paper related to the class (I will provide a list) and prepare a presentation about the paper highlighting the main results and the aspects of astrophysics that we covered in this class. This will require researching background information about the paper from other books and papers. In addition you will be expected to read the papers presented by others in order to ask questions. Your grade will include a component based on your participation during the presentations of others.


Attendance is mandatory for all classes. I encourage you to ask plenty of questions!

It is expected that you will read the relevant sections in the text listed in the class schedule prior to each lecture.

Late policy: Assignments/quizzes/exams must take place on the day they are due/scheduled. Late assignments will be penalized 10% per day and missed quizzes/exams will receive a grade of zero. Make-up quizzes/exams will only be given in exceptional circumstances where proof is provided for a legitimate absence. **The most important thing is to let me know prior to missing a quiz/exam/assignment deadline.**

Cheating will not be tolerated. You may work together on assignments but you must write up your solutions independently. During take-home exams you are not allowed to discuss any of the material with anyone other than your instructor. We will follow the University policies if cheating is suspected.

Please feel free to come and talk to me at any time if you are unclear about anything.