Additional information from school
AS1001 - Astronomy and Astrophysics 1
Aims & Objectives
The aim of this module is to provide an elementary understanding of the structure of the observable universe and our position within it. The physical content of the universe, its structures and their mutual interactions, are explored. It is shown how the properties of planets, stars, galaxies, etc may be determined from observations coupled with theoretical models based on physical principles. The module comprises four 10-lecture courses on The Solar System, Stars and Elementary Astrophysics, The Galaxy, and Cosmology, thereby providing a complete overview of the subject at this level.
By the end of this module, students will have gained:
- an understanding of the structure and evolution of the physical universe from the solar system, through the galaxy, to the large-scale distribution of galaxies and the origin of the universe
- an ability to calculate astrophysical properties of planets, stars and galaxies from basic physical and mathematical models and simplified data.
(1) The Solar System
Brief historical introduction including basic observations and the calendar, leading to Kepler's laws of planetary motion and Newton's law of gravitation. Modern exploration of the Solar System and the study of the physical properties of the planets and their satellites - interior structure, atmosphere and climate, magnetospheres and interactions with the solar wind; physical properties of comets, meteors. The atmosphere of the Sun - photosphere, chromosphere, corona and the solar wind. Origin of the Solar System.
(2) Stars and Elementary Astrophysics
Astronomical observations. Telescopes: optical, radio, space. Stellar brightness, apparent and absolute magnitudes, distances, inverse square law. Colours of the stars, black body radiation laws and temperature. Spectra from astronomical sources; Kirchhoff's laws for continuous, emission and absorption spectra. Spectral classification; excitation and ionisation; determination of stellar compositions. Distribution of stellar parameters; the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Stellar motions: Doppler effect, radial velocity, redshifts; proper motion. Binary stars for masses, radii, luminosities.
(3) The Galaxy
The main-sequence mass-luminosity relationship. Star clusters, their colour-magnitude diagrams, and distances via main-sequence fitting. Effects of interstellar extinction. Spatial distribution of star clusters, differences in chemical composition. Outline of stellar evolution from formation through to end states of white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. Variable stars as distance indicators. Mass loss from stars, supernovae, pulsars, binary stars with compact components. The interstellar medium - cold molecular clouds, HII regions, 'coronal' component; dust. Structure of the Galaxy - population groups, spiral structure, rotation curve.
A preview of the universe. The extragalactic nebulae (galaxies). The determination of extragalactic distances. Types of galaxies. The Hubble classification. Properties of galaxies - sizes, masses, spectra and luminosities. The distribution of galaxies in space - clusters and superclusters. The red-shift - distance relation. Hubble's law. The expansion of the universe. The age of the universe. The Big Bang origin of the universe. A critical density for expansion and contraction. The evolution of the universe.
Additional information on continuous assessment etc
Please view University online record:
Please also read the general information in the School's 1st and 2nd level handbook that is available via st-andrews.ac.uk/physics/staff_students/timetables.php