AST564/PHY564 -- High Energy Astrophysics

Spring 2024

Class Hours: 14:00 - 15:15 Lattimore 431

Prof:     Eric Blackman, Bausch &Lomb 417, 5-0537,

Course Material and Texts:

This course is meant to sample the subject of High Energy Astrophysics.

Typically "High Energy Astrophysics" refers to processes or systems which involve one or more of the following: relativistic phenomena, X-ray emission, Gamma-Ray emission, jet flows, non-thermal particle acceleration, strong magnetic fields, ionized plasmas, compact objects, accretion flows, cosmology of the early universe.

ROUGH OUTLINE OF THE COURSE (subject to adjusment!):

1. Introduction to High Energy Astrophysics (X-ray, Gamma-Ray, and radio source detection)

2. Aspects of Stellar Evolution Relating to Compact Objects

3. Supernovae

4. Compact Objects (Black Holes, White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars)

5. Galactic Center

6. Accretion/ Accretion Disks

7. Accretion in Binary Systems

8. Shocks

9. Cosmic Rays

10. Gamma-Ray Bursts

11. Solar Corona

12. Active Galactic Nuclei and Galaxy Clusters

This list means both the sources, their physics, and in some cases their influence on their enviroments, e.g. generating turbulence, magnetic fields, their role in cosmology, star formation etc. -->

The material of the course will mix and match from textbooks and journal literature and my own notes. The textbook that offers good topical coverage that balances physics with the astrophysics in a way that I like is High Energy Astrophysics by Malcolm Longair. It is a nice textbook to own. USEFUL TEXTBOOKS :

High Energy Astrophysics (3rd Edition) by Malcolm S. Longair; (strong on theoretical explanation of physical principles and broad topical coverage)

Exploring the X-ray Universe (second edition) by Frederick D. Seward and Phillip A. Charles; (strong on high energy astrophysical phenomenology and observational interpretation)


Radiative Processes (Rybicki and Lightman) (basic widely used text on radiative processes)

Modern Astrophysics (Carroll and Ostlie) (very good comprehensive survey of astrophysics intended for undergradates but useful at any level)

Accretion Power in Astrophysics (J. Frank, A. King, D. Raine) good book on theory of accretion disks)

Black Holes, White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars (S. Shapiro and S. Teukolsky) (a theoretically oriented book on some of the more high energy physics aspects of compact objects)

Frontiers of High Energy Astrophysics (A. Fabian, K. Pounds, Blandford) (A good broad overview, collection of essays/articles of the sub fields of x-ray astronomy and high energy astrophysics from experts)

Theoretical Astrophysics (Padmanabhan) (3 volumes) (comprehensive theoretical treatment of many topics)

Coursework: This will be an informal and interactive course. It is best to follow and study the lecture notes to facilitate your immersion in the material and in class discussions. Recommended work includes asking questions, suggested problems, and typically a term project/paper in which you are to give both a midterm 1/2 hour presentations and an final 1/2 hour presentation before turning in your paper. Best to converge on a topic early in the course. I will help you choose topics for presentation as needed. The hope would be that the project leads to a publishable project eventually, or helps complement your research with substantially relevant background material.

The course is graded pass-fail.

Selected Lecture Notes (not a 1 to 1 correspondence with class!) :

Lecture 1 Intro to High Energy Astrophysics

Lecture Set 2 Summary of Low Mass Stellar Post-Main Sequence Evolution

Lecture Set 3 Summary of Degeneracy Pressure and First part of High Mass Stellar Post-Main Sequence Evolution

Lecture Set 3a Supplement On Convective Instability

Lecture Set 4 More on core collapse SN and neutrino deposition; difficulties with driving core collapse SN

Lecture Set 5-6 Extraction of rotational energy via Poynting Flux; general concepts and as an alternative SN Model; rotation and neutrinos

Lecture Set 7-8 Supernova shocks, basic shock physics, Sedov-Taylor solution

Lecture Set 9 Need for particle acceleration mechanisms, 2nd order Fermi acceleration from clouds

Lecture Set 10 Shock Fermi Acceleration (1st order Fermi acceleration)

Lecture Set 10a A few plasma+magnetic field concepts: drift motion,adiabatic invariants magnetic mirroring,

Lecture Set 10a(annotated 10-26-20) A few plasma+magnetic field concepts: drift motion, shock drift acceleration, adiabatic invariants magnetic mirroring,

Lecture Set 10b Extraction of rotational energy via Poynting Flux; general concepts and as an alternative SN Model

Lecture Set 10c Magnetic Braking / Magneto-centrifugal launch; Magnetic Tower vs. Magneto-cenntrifugal Launch Figure; and Bent Jets in AGN on 100kpc scales

Lecture Set 11 Spherical Accretion

Lecture Set 11aBondi-Hoyle Lyttleton wind accretion (basic)

paper for Lecture 11-13 Disk formation in Bondi-Hoyle Lyttleton wind accretion

Lecture Set 12 Accretion with angular momentum (Roche radius)

Lecture Set 13 Accretion and Torque

Comparative plot of different SN type light curves

Some Interesting Links:

On-Line Textbook by Katz on High Energy Astrophysics

V2 Rocket


Chandra Survey

X-ray Telescope Physics

Comparison of X-ray Telescopes Past and Future

Astronomy picture of the day archive .

Crab X-ray (.1 pc) .

Crab Optical (4 pc) .

Cat's Eye X-ray .

Cat's Eye Optical .

Discovery of Spatial and Spectral Structure in the X-Ray Emission from the Crab Nebula !->y