Spring 2014 Astronomy 242 Tu, Th 13:30 — 14:45

ASTR 242 is a rigorous, calculus-based introduction to stellar and galactic, and extragalactic astrophysics. In this course, basic concepts of classical mechanics, thermodynamics, E&M, and modern physics are used to understand the structure and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the Universe. ASTR 242 is the second course in a sequence leading to a proposed astrophysics major.

Time & Place: Tuesday & Thursday, 13:30 — 14:45 in Watanabe 114

Professor: Joshua E. Barnes

Text: Foundations of Astrophysics by Barbara Ryden & Bradley M. Peterson

Astronomy help: See any Astronomy TA in Watanabe 421; hours are posted outside

Course Outline & Schedule

1/14 1/16 Stars: Basic Properties Stellar distances; Luminosities, fluxes, & magnitudes; Colors & temperatures; Radii; Masses 2.6.2, 13.1—5
1/21 1/23 Stars: Spectra Atomic energy levels; Ionization equilibrium; Formation of spectral lines; Spectral classification & effective temperature; Hertzsprung-Russell diagram 14.1—4
1/28 1/30 Interstellar Material Phases of ISM; Interstellar dust & reddening; Neutral hydrogen: the 21 cm line; Giant molecular clouds; Star formation; Ionization regions 16.1—3, 17.1
2/04 2/06 Structure of Milky Way Overview of the Milky Way; Kinematics of the disk; Star clusters; Stellar populations; Galactic center; Dark halo 19.1—7
2/11 2/13 External Galaxies Galaxy classification; Galaxy masses; Supermassive black holes; Scaling relations; Distances 20.1—4
2/18 2/20 REVIEW & MIDTERM
2/25 2/27 Galactic Evolution Galaxy populations (color-luminosity); Color and metallicity gradients; Color evolution; Interacting galaxies; Active galaxies 22.2, 21.1—3
3/04 3/06 Mapping the Universe Hubble's law; Galaxy distribution; Loose & compact groups; Galaxy clusters; The intercluster medium; Cluster masses; Superclusters & voids; High-redshift galaxies 20.5, 22.1, 22.3
3/11 3/13 Cosmological Models Expansion of the universe; Newtonian & Relativistic cosmology; Friedmann equation 23.1—23.5
3/18 3/20 The Big Bang Cosmic background radiation; Flatness & horizon problems; Inflation; Primeval nucleosynthesis 24.1—4
4/01 4/03 REVIEW & MIDTERM
4/08 4/10 Stellar Evolution Stellar structure; Main-sequence stars; Advanced nuclear burning; Giant stars 15.1—4, 17.2
4/15 4/17 Stellar Remnants Degeneracy pressure; White dwarf stars; Core-collapse supernovae; Neutron stars 18.1—4
4/21 4/23 Origin of the Elements Cosmic abundance of chemical elements; White-dwarf supernovae; Slow and rapid neutron capture; Galactic chemical evolution
4/29 5/01 REVIEW
5/06   REVIEW

Problem Sets, Exams, & Grades

Problem sets will be assigned on Thursday of each week, and will be due the following Thursday. Late work must be handed in on Tuesday of the following week, and will receive 70% credit.

There will be two midterm exams, on 2/20 and 4/03. A review class will be given before each exam. The final exam will be given on 05/13 from 12:00 to 14:00 in Wat. 114. The final is cumulative.

The problem sets, midterms, and final are worth 45%, 30%, and 25%, respectively. You must take the final to receive a passing grade.

Joshua E. Barnes      (barnes at
Updated: 16 March 2014
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