2020-21 Catalog

Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics are offered in the Department of Physics.

Astrophysicists apply physics and mathematics to the study of planets, stars, galaxies, pulsars, black holes, quasars and the universe, among many other fascinating objects in order to understand their origin, evolution and ultimate fate. Students who major in astronomy or astrophysics usually have very inquisitive minds and a good aptitude for physics and mathematics. The bachelor degree programs in astronomy and astrophysics provide the student with a solid background in laboratory and theoretical astrophysics as well as in the fundamentals of physics and mathematics. Research opportunities are available to supplement classroom instruction.

The bachelor of science degree in astrophysics is designed for students who wish to go on to graduate studies in astrophysics with the goal of becoming professional astronomers. Professional astronomers generally find positions at colleges, and universities, national labs, NASA or its contractors and in various space industries. This degree also prepares you for many jobs in related fields such as computer science, mathematics or physics.

The bachelor of arts degree in astronomy is intended for students who desire a broad background in astronomy, mathematics and physics but do not plan to do graduate work in astrophysics. With this broad background, the student is well prepared in many fields of endeavor, including planetarium and museum work, teaching astronomy at colleges and universities, secondary education, science writing, or in many professions in which the ability to learn is critical.

Both of these degrees can be profitably combined with mathematics and other sciences producing excellent double majors or double degrees.

A minor program in astronomy is also available for students who wish to enlarge their potential for a career choice or who may be eager to learn more about astrophysics than an introductory course can provide.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Degree Programs

B.A. with Major in Astronomy Program Requirements

Mathematics
MATH 021Calculus I4
MATH 022Calculus II4
MATH 023Calculus III4
MATH 205Linear Methods3
Basic and Intermediate-Level Science
ASTR 007
ASTR 008
Introduction to Astronomy
and Introduction to Astronomy Laboratory
4
EES 021Introduction to Planet Earth3
PHY 010General Physics I4
or PHY 011 Introductory Physics I
PHY 013General Physics II3-4
or PHY 021 Introductory Physics II
PHY 012Introductory Physics Laboratory I1
PHY 022Introductory Physics Laboratory II1
PHY 031Introduction to Modern Physics3
ASTR 105Introduction to Planetary Astronomy3
PHY 220Advanced Physics Laboratory I3
Advanced Astronomy and Astrophysics
ASTR 301Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics 3
ASTR 302Introduction to Galactic and Extragalactic Astrophysics3
Approved Electives 6
Select two additional courses from the following list
High-Energy Astrophysics
General Relativity
Electricity and Magnetism I
Electricity and Magnetism II
Classical Mechanics I
Thermal Physics
Quantum Mechanics I
Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics
Introduction to String Theory
Total Credits52-53

A total of 120 credit hours are required for the Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy.

B.S. in Astrophysics Program Requirements

Mathematics Courses
MATH 021Calculus I4
MATH 022Calculus II4
MATH 023Calculus III4
MATH 205Linear Methods3
MATH 208Complex Variables3-4
or MATH 320 Ordinary Differential Equations
or MATH 322 Methods of Applied Analysis I
Basic Science Courses
PHY 011Introductory Physics I4
or PHY 010 General Physics I
PHY 021Introductory Physics II4
or PHY 023 Introductory Physics II with Relativity
PHY 012Introductory Physics Laboratory I1
PHY 022Introductory Physics Laboratory II1
PHY 031Introduction to Modern Physics3
CHM 030Introduction to Chemical Principles4
ASTR 105Introduction to Planetary Astronomy3
Laboratory and Computing Courses
PHY 220Advanced Physics Laboratory I3
PHY 221Advanced Physics Laboratory II2
CSE 003Introduction to Programming, Part A2
or CSE 007 Introduction to Programming
*Or an equivalent course in scientific computing.
Intermediate and Advanced Courses
PHY 212Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHY 213Electricity and Magnetism II3
PHY 215Classical Mechanics I4
PHY 340Thermal Physics3
PHY 362Quantum Mechanics I3
ASTR 301Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics 3
ASTR 302Introduction to Galactic and Extragalactic Astrophysics3
Elective Courses15
Select five Physics or Astronomy courses numbered higher than 100. Up to two courses in appropriate technical areas offered in other departments may be substituted, when selected with advisor approval. Students planning graduate work in physics are encouraged to include PHY 273 (Research) among their electives.
Total Credits82-83

A total of 123 credit hours are required for the Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics.

Recommended sequence of courses for the first two years

B.A. with Major in Astronomy

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ENGL 0013ENGL 0023
ASTR 007
ASTR 008
4PHY 010 or 0114
EES 0213PHY 0121
EES 0221MATH 0224
MATH 0214Col. Sem.3-4
 15 15-16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHY 013 or 0213-4PHY 0313
PHY 0221MATH 2053
MATH 0234ASTR 1101
ASTR 1053Appr. Elec.3
Dist req3-4Dist req4-7
 14-16 14-17
Total Credits: 58-64

B.S. Astrophysics

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ENGL 0013ENGL 0023
PHY 011 or 0104CHM 0304
PHY 0121MATH 0224
MATH 0214Col. Sem. or Dist. Req.*3-4
Col. Sem. or Dist. Req.*3-4 
 15-16 14-15
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHY 021 or 0234PHY 0313
PHY 0221CSE 002**2
MATH 0234MATH 2053
ASTR 1053Dist. Req.3-4
Elective or Dist. Req.3-4Elective or Dist. Req.3-4
 15-16 14-16
Total Credits: 58-63

Departmental Honors in Astronomy or Astrophysics

Students receiving a BA in Astronomy or a BS in Astrophysics may earn Departmental Honors by satisfying the following requirements:

  1. Academic Performance: Minimum grade point average of 3.50 in astronomy and physics courses used to satisfy the major degree requirements.
  2. Research or Project-Based/Creative Activity: completion of approved1 special topics courses in astronomy that include written reports, or completion of 6 credits of ASTR 273 (research) or equivalent, or completion of a summer research project with written report and oral presentation
  3. Additional Course Work: Completion of at least one approved1 300-level course in either physics or astronomy beyond those required in the student’s degree program. This course may not be selected from special topics or research courses such as ASTR 372.

The Minor Program in Astronomy

The minor in astronomy consists of 15 credits of astronomy and physics courses, at least 9 credits of which must be astronomy courses at or above the 100-level.  No more than one course required in a student’s major program may be included in the minor program. The minor program should be designed along a coherent intellectual theme in consultation with the Physics Department Chair. Examples of course sequences for the minor program can be found on the Physics Department Web Site.

Courses

ASTR 007 Introduction to Astronomy 3 Credits

Introduction to planetary, stellar, galactic, and extragalactic astronomy. An examination of the surface characteristics, atmospheres, and motions of planets and other bodies in our solar system. Properties of the sun, stars, and galaxies, including the birth and death of stars, stellar explosions, and the formation of stellar remnants such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes. Quasars, cosmology, and the evolution of the universe. May not be taken by students who have previously completed ASTR 105, PHY 105, ASTR 301, PHY 301, ASTR 302 OR PHY 302.
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 008 Introduction to Astronomy Laboratory 1 Credit

Laboratory to accompany ASTR 007. Must be enrolled concurrently in ASTR 007.
Corequisites: ASTR 007
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 072 Special Topics In Astrophysics 1-4 Credits

Selected topics not sufficiently covered in other courses.
Repeat Status: Course may be repeated.
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 105 Introduction to Planetary Astronomy 3 Credits

This course is an introduction to the solar system. Topics include observations of the sky, transition from the geocentric to the heliocentric paradigm, gravitational interactions, formation and evolution of the solar system, the structure of and energy production in the Sun, survey of the planets in the solar system, including their dynamics, interiors, atmospheres, composition, and moons, the nature of asteroids, comets, and the Kuiper belt, and the study of exoplanets. Instructor permission required in lieu of Phy 5/10/11.
Prerequisites: PHY 005 or PHY 010 or PHY 011
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 110 Methods of Observational Astronomy 1 Credit

Techniques of astronomical observation, data reduction, and analysis. Photometry, spectroscopy, CCD imaging, and interferometry. Computational analysis. Examination of ground-based and spacecraft instrumentation, and data transmission, reduction, and analysis.
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 172 Special Topics In Astrophysics 1-4 Credits

Selected topics not sufficiently covered in other courses.
Repeat Status: Course may be repeated.
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 272 Special Topics in Astronomy 1-4 Credits

Selected topics not sufficiently covered in other courses.
Repeat Status: Course may be repeated.
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 273 Research 2-3 Credits

Participation in current research projects being carried out within the department.
Repeat Status: Course may be repeated.
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 300 Apprentice Teaching 3 Credits

ASTR 301 Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics 3 Credits

This course will take an observational, theoretical, and computational perspective to investigate the physics of stars. Students will learn how to measure fundamental stellar properties (distance, brightness, mass, radius, and temperature). Students will combine astronomical data analysis with physical modeling, including applications from classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and nuclear physics, to describe the atmosphere, internal structure, energy generation, and evolution of stars. Additional topics include: binary stars, variable stars, supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes.
Prerequisites: (PHY 010 or PHY 011) and (PHY 013 or PHY 021 or PHY 023) and PHY 031 and (MATH 022 or MATH 032 or MATH 052)
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 302 Introduction to Galactic and Extragalactic Astrophysics 3 Credits

This course covers the astrophysics of the universe from stars to cosmological structure. We explore star clusters and stellar populations, and examine the components, structure, and dynamics of the Milky Way Galaxy. We investigate galactic morphology, classification, and evolution, including active galaxies and quasars. The course concludes with a short introduction to cosmology and an overview of galaxy clusters and intergalactic structure.
Prerequisites: (PHY 010 or PHY 011) and (PHY 013 or PHY 021 or PHY 023) and (MATH 022 or MATH 032 or MATH 052) and ASTR 301
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 332 (PHY 332) High-Energy Astrophysics 3 Credits

Observation and theory of X-ray and gamma-ray sources, quasars, pulsars, radio galaxies, neutron stars, black holes. Results from ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray satellites. Generally offered in the spring of odd-numbered years.
Prerequisites: (PHY 021 or PHY 023) and (MATH 023 or MATH 033) and PHY 031 and PHY 215
Can be taken Concurrently: MATH 023, MATH 033
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 342 (PHY 342) Relativity and Cosmology 3 Credits

Special and general relativity. Schwarzschild and Kerr black holes. Super massive stars. Relativistic theories of the origin and evolution of the universe. Generally offered in the spring of even-numbered years.
Prerequisites: (PHY 021 or PHY 023) and (MATH 023 or MATH 033) and PHY 215
Can be taken Concurrently: MATH 023, MATH 033, PHY 215
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 372 Special Topics in Astronomy 1-4 Credits

Selected topics not sufficiently covered in other courses.
Repeat Status: Course may be repeated.
Attribute/Distribution: NS

ASTR 389 Honors Project 1-6 Credits

Repeat Status: Course may be repeated.

ASTR 410 Stellar Atmospheres and Spectroscopy 3 Credits

The course will explore models of the thermodynamic structure of a star’s outermost atmosphere to predict its emitted energy spectrum and spectral line production. Applications of spectroscopy to binary stars, exoplanet host stars, and other astrophysical systems will be presented.

ASTR 411 Stellar Structure and Evolution 3 Credits

The course discusses how to model the physical and thermodynamic structure of a star, from its core to the surface. Computational techniques of stellar modeling, including polytropes, are presented. Applications of stellar modeling to asteroseismology, magnetic fields, and rapidly rotating stars are presented.

ASTR 472 Special Topics in Astronomy 1-4 Credits

Selected topics not sufficiently covered in other courses.
Repeat Status: Course may be repeated.

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