AST243 -- Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics

Spring 2023

Much of the observable astrophysical phenomena in the universe is composed of partially or fully ionized gasses and for many purposes, as a first approximaton,this plasma can be treated as a fluid. The course will introduce to the principles of fluid dynamics (hydrodynamics) and their fundamental role in astrophysical contexts. The next approximation beyond hydrodynamics is magnetohydrodynamics, which we may introduce toward the end of the course, time-permitting.

Class Hours: Tues and Thurs 11:05 - 12:20 Bausch and Lomb 270

Prof:     Eric Blackman, Bausch &Lomb 417,

     Office Hours: Thurs 12:45-2:30pm


The required course textbook is: Principles of Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics (by Clarke and Carswell)



The approximate syllabus and order of topics to be covered is below: (Subject to change as course proceeds.)

1. Introduction: Fluids, Plasmas, in Astrophysics

2. Deriving the Equations of Hydrodynamics: Mass and Momentum

3: Coupling Gravity and Hydrodynamics

4. Energy Equation

5. Hydrostatic Equilibrium

6. Sound Waves

7. Supersonic Flows

8. Blast Waves and Applications

9. Bernoulli's Equation

10. Fluid Instabilities

11. Viscous Flows

12. Accretion Disks

13. Topics in Plasmas and Magnetohydrodynamics


(1) 6-7 Homework problem sets (sets 40%): (Note that only 1 homework problem on each set will be graded in detail but it will be chosen after each set is handed in).

(2) take home mid-term (40%) Handed out Mar 15 Due Mar 19

(3) final exam (40%) TBD