Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session
Course Description
This course explores the applications of physics (Newtonian, statistical, and quantum mechanics) to fundamental processes that occur in celestial objects. The list of topics includes Mainsequence Stars, Collapsed Stars (White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars, and Black Holes), Pulsars, Supernovae, the Interstellar Medium, Galaxies, and as time permits, Active Galaxies, Quasars, and Cosmology. Observational data is also discussed.
Prerequisites
Students must have previously completed Quantum Physics I (8.04) and Quantum Physics II (8.05) with a grade of C or higher. No prior knowledge of astronomy is required.
Textbooks
There is no single text for this course. All of the assigned readings come from the following texts:
BohmVitense, Erika. Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics. 3 vols. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780521344029.
Binney, James, and Scott Tremaine. Galactic Dynamics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780691084442.
Clayton, Donald D. Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1983. ISBN: 9780226109534.
Hansen, Carl J., and Steven D. Kawaler. Stellar Interiors: Physical Principles, Structure, and Evolution. New York, NY: Springer, 2004. ISBN: 9780387200897.
Mihalas, Dimitri, and James Binney. Galactic Astronomy. San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman, 1981, chapter 2. ISBN: 9780716712800.
Press, William H. Introduction to Astrophysics
Shu, Frank H. The Physical Universe. Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books, 1982. ISBN: 9780935702057.
Schechter, Paul. 8.902 Notes on Cosmology (PDF)
Although these are not part of the required readings, students may also find the following books useful:
Binney, James, and Michael Merrifield. Galactic Astronomy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780691004020.
Gray, David F. The Observation and Analysis of Stellar Photospheres. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780521851862.
Harwit, Martin. Astrophysical Concepts. New York, NY: Springer, 1998. ISBN: 9780387949437.
Longair, Malcolm S. Galaxy Formation. New York, NY: Springer, 1998. ISBN: 9783540637851.
Osterbrock, Donald E. The Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei. Sausalito, CA: University Science Books, 2006. ISBN: 9781891389344.
Ostlie, Dale A., and Bradley W. Carroll. An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics. Reading, MA: AddisonWesley Publishing, 1996. ISBN: 9780201547306.
Peebles, P. J. E. Physical Cosmology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971. ISBN: 9780691081083.
———. Principles of Physical Cosmology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. ISBN: 9780691074283.
Schwarzschild, Martin. Structure and Evolution of the Stars. New York, NY: Dover Publications, 1977. ISBN: 9780486614793.
———. The Physics of Astrophysics. 2 vols. Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books, 1991. ISBN: 9780935702644.
Silk, Joseph. The Big Bang. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman, 2001. ISBN: 9780716742463.
Spitzer, Lyman. Physical Processes in the Interstellar Medium. New York, NY: Wiley, 1978. ISBN: 9780471022329.
Unsold, Albrecht. The New Cosmos. New York, NY: Springer, 2001. ISBN: 9783540678779.
Weinberg, Steven. The First Three Minutes. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1993. ISBN: 9780465024377.
———. Gravitation and Cosmology. New York, NY: Wiley, 1972. ISBN: 9780471925675.
Problem Sets
There are 11 problem sets. Approximately one set is due per week. Solutions will be provided four days after the due date.
Exams
There will be one inclass midterm exam. There will also be a comprehensive final exam, scheduled by the Registrar and held during the final exam period.
Grading Policy
ACTIVITIES  PERCENTAGES 

Midterm exam  20% 
Problem sets  40% 
Final exam  40% 
Calendar
SES #  TOPICS  KEY DATES 

1 
Introduction Equatorial coordinates and sidereal time 

2 
Galactic coordinates Distances to stars 

3  Magnitudes (apparent and absolute) and color indices  Problem set 1 due 
4 
Spectral classification The Kepler problem 

5  Parametric solution to Kepler  
6 
Masses of stars Mass radius relation 

7  Mass measurements for exoplanets and our black hole  Problem set 2 due 
8  Telescopes  
9  Polytropic stars  
10 
Classical and quantum statistics The Saha equation 

11 
Equations of state Application of LaneEmden solution: White dwarfs 
Problem set 3 due 
12  Simple results for the sun and other stars  
13  Radiative transport  
14 
Opacities Scaling laws Convection 
Problem set 4 due 
15 
Energy generation Coulomb penetration factor 

16  Nuclear “burning” in the sun and other stars  
17  Evolution of stars of low, intermediate and high mass  Problem set 5 due 
18  Stellar atmospheres  
19  Lines in stellar atmospheres  
20  Inclass exam  Problem set 6 due 
21  Introduction to the interstellar medium  
22  Photoionized nebulae (H II regions and planetaries)  
23  Supernovae and shocks  
24  Adiabatic supernova shocks  Problem set 7 due 
25  Galaxy morphology  
26 
Quantifiable properties of galaxies Collisional relaxation times 

27  Collisionless Boltzmann equation (cartesian) and its moments  Problem set 8 due 
28  Boltzmann and the 4 jeans equations (spherical)  
29  Galaxy disks: Rotation and epicyclic motion  
30  Galaxy models: Potentials, orbits, and distribution functions  Problem set 9 due 
31  Clusters of galaxies  
32 
Evidence for the expansion and homegeneity of the universe Newtonian derivation of Friedmann universe 

33  Galaxy formation  Problem set 10 due 
34  FriedmanRobertsonWalker metric  
35  Friedman equation with radiation and other stuff  
36  Supernovae and cosmic acceleration  Problem set 11 due 
37  Recombination and helium production  
38  Fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background  
Final exam 