Chandra X-ray Telescope
Teaching Spring 2012: High-energy Astrophysics
(Astronomy 582)

INSTRUCTOR: Professor Fulvio Melia

OFFICE HOURS: M W F, 10:00 am - 11:00 am in PAS 447. (For other times, please e-mail ( me first to make sure I'm there.)

LECTURES: M W, 2:00 pm - 2:50 pm in Steward 202


Homework # 1; Solutions #1.
Homework # 2; Solutions #2.
Homework # 3; Solutions #3.
Homework # 4; Solutions #4.
Homework # 5; Solutions #5.


Melia, High-Energy Astrophysics (Princeton University Press, 2008)

Recommended reading:

Shapiro and Teukolsky, Black Holes, White Dwarfs, and Neutron Stars
Rybicki and Lightman, Radiative Processes in Astrophysics


Introduction and Motivation (10 Lectures)
High-Energy Astrophysics
Energies, timescales, luminosities
Experimental Tools of High-Energy Astrophysics (HEA)
Atmospheric absorption
UV, X-ray, and Gamma-ray detectors
Balloons, Space-based astronomy
Past, present, and pending HEA Telescopes
Sky Maps
X-rays (diffuse, point sources)
Gamma-rays (point sources)
Classes of Sources and Archetypical Objects
Pulsing sources (White Dwarfs, Neutron stars)
Cygnus X-1
Transient X-ray and Gamma-ray sources
The Galactic Center
Active Galactic Nuclei
Basic Theoretical Tools (8 Lectures)
Overview of Special Relativity
Overview of General Relativity
Particle Acceleration
Electromagnetic Fields
Fermi Mechanism
Sources of Energy (7 Lectures)
Nuclear Burning
Spherical Accretion
Capture Radius
Sonic Point
Heating and Cooling Effects
Embedded Magnetic Fields
Thin Disk Accretion
Roche Lobe Geometry
Standard Thin Disk Theory (formation, viscosity, structure)
Boundary Layers
Accretion columns
Thermally unstable inner regions
Two-temperature thin disks
Thick Disk Accretion
Super-Eddington Accretion
Angular-momentum distribution
Funnels and Jet formation
Accretion spin-up
Galactic X-Ray Sources (3 Lectures)
Magnetospheric Physics
Isolated Neutron Stars (Radio Pulsars)
X-ray Pulsars
Evolution of X-ray Binaries
Massive binaries containing neutron stars
Low-mass binaries containing neutron stars
Cataclysmic Variables
X-Ray Burst Sources
Thermonuclear Flash Model
Implications for neutron-star structure
The Black Hole Candidate Cygnus X-1
Multi-wavelength observations
The Comptonized Spectrum Model
The Galactic Center (1 Lecture)
The circumnuclear environment
The supermassive black hole Sgr A*
Active Galactic Nuclei (1 Lectures)
Multiwavelength Observations, Classes
The Accretion-Disk interpretation for the "blue bump"
X-ray and Gamma-ray Emission Mechanisms
The Gamma-ray OVV 3C279 observed with GRO
Gamma-ray Burst Sources (1 Lecture)
Spatial Distribution
Their Cosmological Nature

Problem set 1, Detectors. (due Feb 1)
Problem set 2, Special Relativity. (due February 20)
Problem set 3, General Relativity. (due March 5)
Problem set 4, Acceleration Mechanisms. (due March 26)
Problem set 5, Compact Objects. (due April 30)

  1. Problems (25%)
  2. Midterm exam on March 7 (25%)
  3. Final (Friday, May 4) (50%)