LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY Fall 2009

PHYSICS 560: Topics in Astrophysics

INSTRUCTOR: Megan K. Pickett

OFFICE: Youngchild 105

**OFFICE HOURS**: MWF 11:30-12:30; T 10am-11am; & by appointment

PHONE: (920) 993-6269

EMAIL: megan.pickett@lawrence.edu

LECTURE TIMES: MWF 9:50 - 11:00 AM

LECTURE ROOM: YOU 115

CLASS WEBSITE: http://www.lawrence.edu/fast/pickettm/p560f09/

Welcome to Physics 560, *Topics in Astrophysics*. This is a course that covers, at
a mathematically and physically sophisticated level, a selection of topics in astronomy. No prior knowledge of astronomy
is required, but I will have some introductory astronomy texts available if you would like additional background. For this term,
I have chosen topics that cover stellar and galactic astrophysics, as well as cosmology. If you have any additional interests,
I am more than happy to consider topics not explicitly covered in the attached class schedule.

**TEXT:** *Foundations of Astrophysics*, by Ryden &
Peterson. This is a first rate text, as far as these things go; there
is a dearth of good and affordable intermediate level astronomy texts
on the market, and this book represents the best combination of
material, problems, and reasonable cost around. I will supplement, in
a couple of places, assigned readings with handouts (either handouts
I've written myself or xeroxed passages from other texts). This is
also a much needed improvement over the last text we used (Harwit's
*Astrophysical Concepts*) if for no other reason than we'll be using
fairly consistently SI units rather than a confusing mash of just
about every unit system imaginable.

**READINGS: **I expect you to read through the assigned reading
prior to class. Despite the detail of the schedule, it is still
tentative; I would like to be fairly flexible depending on class needs
or unforseen circumstances. Yes, there are several important concepts
that I feel we must cover, but I do not want the course to be a race
to see how far and fast we can get through the text. If we fall
behind or zip through some chapters, I'll let you know the schedule
change in lecture and online as soon as possible.

**ASSIGNMENTS:** There will be six homework assignments; your
averaged homework score will constitute 25% of your total grade.
Students are encouraged to work in groups, but **you must turn in
your own work in your own words**. To receive any credit, you must
show all your work and reasoning. Unless I specifically prohibit it,
you may use MAPLE or IDL to solve an integral or differential equation
that you would have to otherwise look up in a table, but you must
include a complete code listing.
Problem sets are the best possible way for you to learn the class
material and prepare for exams. Extensive solutions will be provided
in class on the due dates, and so I cannot accept any late homework.

My homework deal for you: If you turn in **EVERY**
assignment **AND** make an honest attempt to answer **EVERY**
question on each assignment, then I will drop your lowest homework
score. This is meant to encourage you to work each and every problem
assigned. If you have any difficulty, drop by my office, send me an
email, call me, use morse code or sema-fore--however you do it, let me
know you have a question, and I will be happy to help.

The
homework assignments are posted separately on the website here,
with the corresponding due dates. Changes will be announced in class
and on the website. Please note that with the change in text, I will need a little
more time to put together the complete set of homeworks than otherwise, but the first
two problem sets are already available and in your hands.

**TESTS AND FINAL:** There will be two tests and a final in this
course. The final examination will be cumulative,
while emphasizing material covered since the third test. The cumulative
section of the final will be based on the questions in the first two
exams that gave the class the most difficulty. I design the final in
such a way in order to reduce the amount you need to study at the end
of the year as well as offer the class a chance at showing me that it
has mastered problems that caused difficulties earlier.

All exams are closed book and closed notes, although each exam
will include a list of useful (and not particularly useful) formulae. You may use
a calculator, but whatever device you use must NOT connect to the internet or
in any way store data prior to the exam.
The equation list means that you will not need to memorize most equations, but you will have
to be able to recognize which formula is appropriate and what it
means. The equation list for each exam will be made available with each
practice exam (see below)

I will supply the class with "practice exams" the week before each exam as a guide to help you study, and to give you and idea of what my exam questions are like. I am willing to schedule a review session to discuss these or any other problems before each exam if we can find a time that most people can make, otherwise we can go over the practice questions during my office hours. In any case, solutions to the practice tests will NOT be provided. Since each exam takes place during a 70 minute class period, I anticipate that the midterms will contain about 4 problems (though, of course, physicists being physicists, you just know that some of those problems will have multiple parts to them).

COURSE GRADE:

Assignment Average |
25% |

Exam 1 |
22% |

Exam 2 |
22% |

Final Exam |
31% |

Total Grade |
100% |

Grades will be posted on the website and updated weekly, with a running estimated course grade computed after the first exam. My hope is that a curve won't be needed, and that using the standard scale of 100-90% = A, 89-80% = B and so on will be sufficient. However, I will curve if necessary, in which case the curve will be designed such that the average score sets the position for a B-/C+. I will not raise the curve, however. If you all get 95%'s, you all get A's and I'll go home this summer a very happy professor.

**COMMUNICATION:** An important asset in any field is the ability to communicate
your ideas clearly. With this in mind, I expect all homework and exams to
be written legibly and presented neatly. Plots and figures should be labelled
accurately and captioned. You will lose points if I cannot read your work.
Finally, your answer to any question MUST include the appropriate units, if applicable.

**PLEASE NOTE:**
If you EVER need help, please feel absolutely free to contact
me in any way that is convenient. I have plenty of office hours, and
I am always willing to set aside separate times if those are
inconvenient. NOTHING I DO AT WORK IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HELPING MY
STUDENTS. Do not wait until it is too late. I'm here to help.

**ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:** Academic dishonesty of any sort will not be
tolerated. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to,
plagiarism, cheating on exams, falsifying experimental data, and providing
unauthorized aid to another student. If you have any questions, please
feel free to talk to me or consult the student guide. Any material turned into
me must have the honor pledge written
and
signed, or I will not grade it.

**ADA AND ANTIDISCRIMINATION STATEMENTS:** In compliance with
the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), all qualified students
enrolled in this course are entitled to reasonable accommodations. It
is your responsibility to inform me of any special needs you may need
before the end of the second week of classes. I also believe firmly
in the right for each student to be respected, both by a student's
peers and her or his instructor. I am therefore strongly committed to
ensuring that the antidiscrimination policy established at Lawrence will be
honored in my class.