Physics 3250 - Introduction to
Astrophysics
Instructor: Professor Kirk Korista
Office: 1124 (and occasionally 2226) Everett Tower
Telephone: 387-4936
Physics Department: 387-4940
Email: kirk 'dot' korista 'at' wmich 'dot' edu
Office Hours: T after class - 2
p.m., W 11-noon, Th 3-4:30 p.m., or by
appointment, or just drop by. You are *expected* to make use of
them.
- COURSE INFORMATION: This is an introduction to
modern
astrophysics. We will explore the underlying physical foundations of a
wide
range of astrophysical processes that involve stars, the basic building
blocks of the cosmos (e.g., binary star
orbits,
formation of stellar spectra, stellar structure and some evolution, origin of
the elements). You
will
gain physical insight into these processes via
order-of-magnitude
type calculations and the asking
of questions. We
will
apply some of the principles of mechanics, conservation laws, ideal
gases, quantum mechanical processes in atomic
&
nuclear
physics, along with some calculus - to understand the workings of a profoundly
real system - stars! If you've ever wondered what good
this
stuff is,
you are embarking on a journey to find out. This course satisfies one
of the
requirements for
the astronomy minor program and one of two required electives
for the physics minor program. 3 credit hours.
I will emphasize demonstration of physical
understanding, both conceptual and quantitative, and eschew memorization, "plug and
chug" and "equations from the magic book".
- PREREQUISITES: The prerequisite for this
course
is PHYS 3090 (Introductory Modern
Physics). PHYS
1060
(Introduction to Stars & Galaxies) is a recommended, but not
required course.
- CLASS MEETINGS: This class meets TR 11 a.m. - 12:15
p.m. in
2211
Rood Hall.
- REQUIRED MATERIALS: The textbook is An
Introduction
to Modern Astrophysics (2nd Edition, 2007; the 2nd
printing or later) by
Carroll
& Ostlie, and a course notes-pack.
The textbook is available from the WMU (Folletts) Bookstore. Order the
course
notes-pack from mycoursepack.com (instructions for ordering were sent
in an email announcement). Please also have
pencils & erasers, a simple calculator with
the
major math functions (TI-30, TI-36 or
similar), paper for notetaking, and a folder or binder to
keep notes, handouts, old
homework, etc.
- PARTICIPATION:
I assume you are here because you are
interested
in and have a desire to learn astrophysics. So, I expect that you will participate
during the class meetings (5% of
your semester grade). Showing up inattentively or dithering about on
your
favorite electronic device will not gain you credit. One
unexcused absence will be allowed without penalty. If
you
have a legitimate excuse for
missing class, please speak with me, ahead of time if at all possible. A
note about the course notes-pack...These in-class notes are not meant
to be comprehensive. They do have many of the main ideas, equations,
plots, figures, etc. - enough so that you have the opportunity to
listen to me, ask questions, and add your own
notes or questions, etc. You will need to jot down
additional important points made, either verbally or in examples worked out on
the chalk board.
- HOMEWORK - very IMPORTANT: Homework
(mostly quantitative problem
solving)
will
be assigned throughout the semester, and you will be responsible for
these
assignments. Your experiences with the assignments will be critical to your
success in this class.
You must show
enough work to demonstrate that you understand the physical processes and
mathematical techniques involved (e.g., begin with the
simplest, justified and stated assumptions). Reasonable (not rigorous) use of
significant figures will be expected, as
will the correct use of
units. A sketch may be necessary to demonstrate concepts. Some assignments may involve computer work
(see below). The homework will be due at the time and date assigned on
the homework sheet, and counted late thereafter. A 10%
deduction
from your score will be
imposed upon the grade of a late assignment on the first school day
late. A grade of zero will be imposed for anything turned in later, except
by my explicit approval.
You will be allowed a single 1-school-day-late
homework
assignment, free of deduction.
I
do not
expect this to be a problem in this course. Please speak with me ahead of time if
there
are special circumstances that might prevent you from completing the
homework
on time. All
homework is to be
done in pencil.
Students may work together on
homework, but should execute and turn in
their own work. You are responsible
for knowing what this means, and if you don't, you had better
ask me. Failure to meet these
expectations may result in a report submitted to the Office of Academic
Integrity, with a zero for the graded work in question and possible
failure of the entire course.
- COMPUTER GENERATED PLOTS, COMPUTATIONS:
Computer
graphing is an important skill in any science, engineering, or
applied math field. Any
scientific plot constructed
for homework must be quantitative, meaning that it provides labels of
curves and axes, the
inclusion of
appropriate units, a numerical scale with an appropriate number of
major &
minor tick marks
on the axes that demonstrates that the student understands the physical
processes illustrated in the plot. Accuracy is also key. While hand-drawn
plots on metrically ruled (10
ticks/cm only) graph paper will be accepted, I prefer that they
are
done with the use of a computer (PC, laptop, workstation). For example,
students may use MS-Excel or
Origin, (or ask me). If these or other
programs are used for making difficult/lengthy computations, the
student must
explain and demonstrate the steps that were "plugged into the program,"
and include an explicit sample computation by hand. All equation derivations are to be done by hand.
- EXAMS: There will be approximately 2 exams during
the
regular portion of the semester, to be announced in class. The Final
Exam has been scheduled for Thursday, April 27, 8-10
am. All exam work is
to be done
in pencil. Approved (by Dr. Korista) electronic calculators will be the
only electronic devices allowed during exams. I prefer the TI-30 or TI-36.
- GRADING POLICY: Together the regular hour exams
will be
worth 30% of your course grade, the
homework will be worth 40% of your
course
grade, and the comprehensive final exam will be worth 25% of
your course grade. The
remaining
5% will be based upon your attendance to class. Exam
scores will be "curved" in some way (TBA), but HW scores will not.
Small amounts of extra credit (EC) are sometimes
available on the exams and applied to the exam score, and occasionally
there will be some EC questions on the HW. Finally, there will be EC
mini-projects, the credit on which will
be applied toward your homework total.
- GRADING SCALE:
A 90-100%
BA 85-89%
B 80-84%
CB 75-79%
C 70-74%
DC 65-69%
D 60-64%
E < 60%
- On the WWW: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~korista/phys3250.html
is the class web page that will contain class announcements, textbook
readings, important textbook links, various computer programs to be
used in homework, etc., as well as a
whole bunch of really cool astronomical images and computer simulations
of the cosmos - stars and beyond. Feel free also to visit my web
site to learn a
bit
about me at http://homepages.wmich.edu/~korista/.