Astrophysics is one of the fastest-growing fields of physics. From extrasolar planets to distant galaxies to graviational waves from colliding black holes, astrophysics is filled with numerous examples of exciting recent discoveries. Currently, there is no overview astrophysics course for physics graduate students at USC. As a result, current graduate students whose thesis research is in astronomy/astrophysics take no formal course in basic astrophysics, which leaves a significant hole in their academic preparation. The proposed course is intended to remedy this situation. Furthermore, this course should prove useful for even other physics graduate students, given that astrophysics is driving some of the key developments in other fields of physics, such as particle physics, nuclear physics, and gravitational physics.
This course will build on the students' knowledge of basic modern physics, mechanics, and thermal physics to illustrate how these fields can be applied to interpret observations of a variety of astrophysical objects and their evolution.
The state of South Carolina has remained significantly underrepresented in astrophysics compared to most other states in the US. In order to improve this situation, it is essential to train graduate students in astrophysics. The proposed course is a key step in this direction.
The course will be cross-listed as ASTR746 for the benefit of students focusing on astrophysics for their thesis research.