## Astrophysical Sciences

- APC 523/AST 523/MAE 507: Numerical Algorithms for Scientific ComputingA broad introduction to numerical algorithms used in scientific computing. The course begins with a review of the basic principles of numerical analysis, including sources of error, stability, and convergence. The theory and implementation of techniques for linear and nonlinear systems of equations and ordinary and partial differential equations are covered in detail. Examples of the application of these methods to problems in engineering and the sciences permeate the course material. Issues related to the implementation of efficient algorithms on modern high-performance computing systems are discussed.
- AST 203: The UniverseThis course, whose subject matter covers the entire universe, targets the frontiers of modern astrophysics. Topics include the planets of our solar system; the search for extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life and intelligence; the birth, life, and death of stars; black holes; the zoo of galaxies and their evolution; the Big Bang and the expanding universe; and dark matter, dark energy, and the large-scale structure of the universe. This course is designed for the non-science major and has no prerequisites past high school algebra and geometry. High school physics would be useful, but is not required.
- AST 204: Topics in Modern AstronomyThe solar system and planets around other stars; the structure and evolution of stars; supernovae, neutron stars, and black holes; gravitational waves; the formation and structure of galaxies; cosmology, dark matter, dark energy, and the history of the entire universe. Compared to AST 203, this course employs more mathematics and physics. Intended for quantitatively-oriented students.
- AST 309/MAE 309/PHY 309/ENE 309: The Science of Fission and Fusion EnergyPower from the nucleus offers a low-carbon source of electricity. However, fission power also carries significant risks: nuclear proliferation (North Korea, Iran), major accidents (Chernobyl, Fukushima), and waste disposal (Yucca Mountain). Fusion carries fewer risks, but the timetable for its commercialization is uncertain. We will delve into the scientific underpinnings of these two energy sources, so you can assess them for yourselves. A benefit of this course is that you will expand your scientific and computational skills by applying them to important real-world problems.
- AST 403/PHY 402: Stars and Star FormationStars form from interstellar gas, and eventually return material to the interstellar medium (ISM). Nuclear fusion powers stars, and is also the main energy source in the ISM. This course discusses the structure and evolution of the ISM and of stars. Topics include: physical properties and methods for studying ionized, atomic, and molecular gas in the ISM; dynamics of magnetized gas flows and turbulence; gravitational collapse and star formation; the structure of stellar interiors; production of energy by nucleosynthesis; stellar evolution and end states; the effects of stars on the interstellar environment.
- AST 514: Structure of the StarsTheoretical and numerical analysis of the structure of stars and their evolution. Topics include a survey of the physical process important for stellar interiors (equation of state, nuclear reactions, transport phenomena); and the integrated properties of stars and their evolution.
- AST 520: High Energy AstrophysicsSelected astrophysical applications of electrodynamics, special and general relativity, nuclear and particle physics. Topics may include synchrotron radiation, comptonization, orbits and accretion in black-hole metrics, radio sources, cosmic rays, and neutrino astropysics.
- AST 542: Seminar in Observational Astrophysics: Current Research Topics in AstrophysicsStudents improve their ability to give effective professional presentations, through lessons and opportunities to communicate their own research.
- AST 552: General Plasma Physics IIThis is an introductory graduate course in plasma physics, focusing on magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) and its extension to weakly collisional or collisionless plasmas. Topics to be covered include: the equations of MHD and extended MHD, the structure of magnetic fields, static and rotating MHD equilibria and their stability, magnetic reconnection, MHD turbulence, and the dynamo effect. Applications are drawn from fusion, heliophysical, and astrophysical plasmas.
- AST 554: Irreversible Processes in PlasmasIntroduction to theory of fluctuations and transport in plasma. Origins of irreversibility. Random walks, Brownian motion, and diffusion; Langevin and Fokker-Planck theory. Fluctuation-dissipation theorem; test-particle superposition principle. Statistical closure problem. Derivation of kinetic equations from BBGKY hierarchy and Klimontovich formalism; properties of plasma collision operators. Classical transport coefficients in magnetized plasmas; Onsager symmetry. Introduction to plasma turbulence, including quasilinear theory. Applications to current problems in plasma research.
- AST 558: Seminar in Plasma PhysicsAdvances in experimental and theoretical studies or laboratory and naturally-occurring high-temperature plasmas, including stability and transport, nonlinear dynamics and turbulence, magnetic reconnection, selfheating of "burning" plasmas, and innovative concepts for advanced fusion systems. Advances in plasma applications, including laser-plasma interactions, nonneutral plasmas, high-intensity accelerators, plasma propulsion, plasma processing, and coherent electromagnetic wave generation.
- AST 560: Computational Methods in Plasma PhysicsAnalysis of methods for the numerical solution of the partial differential equations of plasma physics, including those of elliptic, parabolic, hyperbolic, and eigenvalue type. Topics include finite difference, finite element, spectral, particle-in-cell, Monte Carlo, moving grid, and multiple-time-scale techniques, applied to the problems of plasma equilibrium, transport and stability. Basic parallel programming concepts are discussed.
- AST 562: Laboratory in Plasma PhysicsDevelop skills, knowledge, and understanding of basic and advanced laboratory techniques used to measure the properties and behavior of plasmas. Representative experiments are: cold-cathode plasma formation and architecture; ambipolar diffusion in afterglow plasmas; Langmuir probe measurements of electron temperature and plasma density; period doubling and transitions to chaos in glow discharges; optical spectroscopy for species identification; microwave interferometry and cavity resonances for plasma density determination; and momentum generated by a plasma thruster.
- MAE 528/AST 566: Physics of Plasma PropulsionFocus of this course is on fundamental processes in plasma thrusters for spacecraft propulsion with emphasis on recent research findings. Start with a review of the fundamentals of mass, momentum & energy transport in collisional plasmas, wall effects, & collective (wave) effects, & derive a generalized Ohm's law useful for discussing various plasma thruster concepts. Move to detailed discussions of the acceleration & dissipation mechanisms in Hall thrusters, magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters, pulsed plasma thrusters, & inductive plasma thrusters, & derive expressions for the propulsive efficiencies of each of these concepts.
- SML 505/AST 505: Modern StatisticsThe course provides an introduction to modern statistics and data analysis. It addresses the question, "What should I do if these are my data and this is what I want to know"? The course adopts a model based, largely Bayesian, approach. It introduces the computational means and software packages to explore data and infer underlying parameters from them. An emphasis will be put on streamlining model specification and evaluation by leveraging probabilistic programming frameworks. The topics are exemplified by real-world applications drawn from across the sciences.