ASTR 402 Spring 2013 Between the Stars: The Interstellar Medium (Q)

The matter between the stars--the interstellar medium--manifests itself in many interesting and unexpected ways, and, as the detritus of stars, its properties and behavior hold clues to the history and future evolution of both stars and the galaxies that contain them. Stars are accompanied by diffuse matter all through their lifetimes, from their birthplaces in dense molecular clouds, to the stellar winds they eject with varying ferocity as they evolve, to their final fates as they shed their outer layers, whether as planetary nebulae or dazzling supernovae. As these processes go on, they enrich the interstellar medium with the products of the stars' nuclear fusion. The existence of life on Earth is eloquent evidence of this chemical enrichment.
In this course we will study the interstellar medium in its various forms. We will discuss many of the physical mechanisms that produce the radiation we observe from diffuse matter, including radiative ionization and recombination, collisional excitation of "forbidden" lines, collisional ionization, and synchrotron radiation. This course is observing-intensive. Throughout the semester students will work in small groups to design, carry out, analyze, and critique their own observations of the interstellar medium using the equipment on our observing deck.
Class Format: discussion/seminar, plus computer work and observing projects
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on homework, class presentations/problem-solving, and observing projects
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Prerequisites: Physics 201
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Divisional Attributes: Division III,Quantitative and Formal Reasoning
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Enrollment Limit: 10
Expected Enrollment: 8
Class Number: 3007
ASTR402-01(S) SEM Betwn Stars:Intrstellar Medium (Q) Division 3: Science and MathematicsQuantitative and Formal Reasoning Karen B. Kwitter
MR 2:35 PM-3:50 PM Physics 203 3007
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