Introduction to Astrophysics

Spring Semester 2011

  • syllabus
  • M51 galaxy
    M51 whirlpool galaxy (courtesy SDSS)


    Mark Kruse
    email: mkruse"at"
    Office: Physics 283, 660-2564
    Office hours: Mondays 2-4pm, or whenever my door is open, or by appointment
    Teaching Assistant: Kevin Finelli (finelli"at"
    Kevin's office hours: Tue and Thu 2:30 - 3:30pm


    Room: Physics 150
    Times: Mon & Wed, 6:00 - 7:15pm. First lecture: Wed 12 Jan.

    Audience and Prerequisites

    This is an undergraduate course, aimed at students who have completed at least 2 semesters of introductory physics, and 2 semesters of calculus.
    Prerequisites: PHY-41/42 or PHY-51/52 or PHY-53/54 or PHY-61/62, MATH-31/32
    OR, consent of the instructor.

    Course Description

    See the linked syllabus above for a rough outline of lecture material. This might change a bit during the course if topical issues of interest arise.

    Textbooks and References

    Text: Introduction to High-Energy Astrophysics, by Rosswog and Bruggen, 2007 (available from the Duke bookstore, or amazon)


  • Modern Astrophysics, Carroll and Ostlie (1996)
  • Various other reading materials will be handed out in class

  • Grade calculation

    Homework assignments: 25%
    Independent Project: 15%
    Two midterm exams: 30% (15% each)
    Final exam (3 hours): 30%

    Lecture notes

    Lecture handouts will be made available here.

  • From L1, see me for the following handouts: Intro to SR, units, project ideas
  • From L2, see me for handout on space-time diagrams
  • From L3, see me for handout on relativistic momentum
  • From L4, see me for handouts on stellar classification, and further information about space-time diagrams
  • Stellar nuclear reactions 1
  • Stellar nuclear reactions 2
  • Stellar nuclear reactions 3
  • Stellar Structure Equations additional notes for 21 March lecture
  • Electron Degeneracy Pressure additional notes for 23 March lecture
  • Final Stages of Stellar Evolution additional notes for 30 March lecture
  • Practice Exam (Exam II from 2010)

  • Homeworks

    There will be approximately 8 problem sets throughout the semester, which you can download from here in pdf format.

  • Homework #1 : due 5:00pm Fri 28 Jan 2011
  • Homework #2 : due 8:00pm Mon 14 Feb 2011
  • Homework #3 : due 11:59pm Fri 25 Feb 2011
  • Homework #4 : due 11:59pm Mon 21 March 2011
  • Homework #5 : due 11:59pm Mon 4 April 2011
  • Homework #6 and #7 : due 11:59pm Wed 27 April 2011 solns

  • Class Project

    A list of possible topics is available here .
    When you submit your final project, please do so in electronic form -- pdf is preferred.

    Project milestone dates

  • 14 February: Title
  • 7 March: abstract (length about 1/3 to 1/2 page) giving a synopsis of your project and how it will be structured
  • 21 March: Project outline with notes on what each section will contain. Perhaps some sections, such as the introduction will be in draft form. We will then give you feedback on this for your final version. The more content you provide the more feedback we can give you.
  • 21 April: Final project due.


  • In-class Exam I: Monday, Feb 28, 6pm
  • In-class Exam II: Wednesday, April 6, 6pm

  • Mark Kruse, prepared for Spring 2011.