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UT AST 352K - AST 352K Syllabus

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1Astronomy 352KSTELLAR ASTRONOMYFall 2010 — Unique Number 47725Meetings:MWF 9–10, in RLM 15.216BInstructor:Chris Sneden, RLM 15.310A (normally enter 15.312)Office Phone: 471-1349Home Phone: 343-0004email: ch r i [email protected] verdi.as.utexas.eduoffice hours: MWF 1–2TAs:TBAOffice Phone: TBAemail: TBAoffice hours: TBARequired Text:An Introduction to Stellar Astrophysicsauthor: Francis LeBlanc2010, Wiley, p aperback editionGrading:Homework Sets: 40% of gradeHour tests (3 of them): 40%Independent topic report 20%Final Exam: 0%(last Hour Test p r obably will be during the fi n al exam period)Students with special needs may request appropriate accommodation;call UT’s office of Services for Students with Disabil i t i es, 471-6259.Astro 352K — Sneden (#47725) 2Subject Matter, Goals, and Miscellaneous CommentsWhat is it? To whom am I speaking? Astronomy 352K is a junior/senior-levelintroduction to stell ar astronomy and astrophysics, with em p hasis on observational andempirical methods for studying stars via the light they emit. It is designed with upper-division astronomy majors in mind, but it i s also suit a b l e for students majoring in closelyrelated fields s u ch as physics, mathematics, or engineering. See an additional remark in thetextbook paragraph below.Prerequisites? I expect you to have taken Physics 316 (Electricity & Magnetism) and itsassociated lab course Physics 116L, which have as their prerequisites Physics 301 (Mechanics)and 101L, and relevant math courses. It is acceptable to have taken i n st ead the EngineeringPhysics courses 303K and 303L, with their lab courses. Astronomy draws on such a widevariety of areas in physics that we cannot expect you t o have prior preparation in all of them,and so we will introduce physical ideas and laws as needed. (Exa m p l es include the th eor y ofradiation, atomic structure, and statistical mechanics.) We will usuall y be interested mainlyin applying physical pri n ci p l es, rather than in deep and lengthy deri vations. In generalthe math ematical m a n i p u l at i ons expected of you (e.g., on homework sets) will be prettystraightforward.Background? We do not assume that you have strong (indeed, any!) previous back-ground in astronomy, although many of the students already will have taken other upper-division astronomy courses or at least had an introductory ast r onomy course such as AST 307or 301. If you find that ther e are gaps in your basic astronom ic al knowledge, please ask meor the TA to explain or el a borate (either in class or during office hours). You might also findit helpful to consult one of the many fine introductory textbooks that ar e widely available(I can lend you one of them). It should take you only a few evenings to mas t er all of t h erelevant mater i al that is contained in these books.Overlap with other courses? There is a small amount of overlap between AST 352Kand AS T 358 (Galaxies and the Universe), AST 353 (Astrophysics), and AST 352L (Posi-tional, Kinematical, and Dynamical Astronomy). We will try to avoid excessive redundancy,but that is inevitable in some subject areas, since not all members of the present class willhave taken these other courses.Textbook? For the fi r st time in my recent teaching of this course, we will have atextbook: Francis LeBlanc’s An Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics. This book is so newthat we have had struggles in getting copies. The University Co-op says that it will come inon August 28. Until then, th e author and publisher have kindly given us access to pdf files ofthe first two chapters. I have put these files on the class web site in our password-restrictedarea. The book covers material appropriate to both this course and t he AST 353 course thatincludes discussion of stellar interiors and nuclear energy generation. This is a nice s inglesource for basic information about star s, and I like its presumption that many read er s willhave had no prior introduction to ast r on omy in any detail.Astro 352K — Sneden (#47725) 3Class notes? I also am posting copies of my n ot e s notes on the class web site. I havealternated teaching this course with Prof. Harriet Di nerstein, and between us we have prettymuch settled on the topics and presentation order that we like. Harriet made a major upgradein the class notes a few years ago, and the current version has a lot of her ideas in it.Independent topic report? Students generally benefit from the experience of research-ing a specific topic in some depth. To accomplish this here, about mid semester you willdivided into groups and asked to give a short group presentation on a topic that deals withsome interesting aspect of stellar ast r on o my. Th e presentations will occur the last 2-3 classdays of the semester. They will consist of an oral exposition of a poster or slide set onthe subject that you have prepared for the occasion. Your grade will be determined froma combination of astronomical content, presentati on style and overall effort. The membersof the group will work together to decide how to divide up the lar ger topic into individualsections. Groups that work t oge t h er well and give uniformly high-quality presentations willget “bonus” points added to their gr ad e, giving students an incentive to help each other.My bias in this course? I regard AST 352K as a vital link between the basic, oftenelegant physics a n d mathemat i cs that you have ingested at UT for the past two-three years,and the real, often messy world of astronomical research. Astrophysics combines elementsfrom all areas o f physics to offer coherent theoretical model s for how the solar system, galaxy,and universe are con st r u c t ed and how they have and will evolve. If you are look ing for thatin this course, forget it. Theoretical astrophysics cannot really derive rational models foran object without ap pealing to observational astronomy. I am not an ast r op hysicist as theterm is sometimes meant (t hat is, I am not a theorist). I am an observational astr on o m er ,and proud of i t . And observational astronomy is what you will find covered in this course.Not how is the universe constructed, but how does one practically assemble the basic d a taabout particular astronomical objects (stars) that can be gainfully used in constructin g thestory of the universe?So forget cookbook problems? Not entirely, bu t we wil l deal as much as possiblewith rea l data from the literature that have been obtained at various ast r onomical


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