Credit: P. Marenfeld
Instructor: Christian Ott
Ay 215, Seminar in Theoretical Astrophysics, is a course for graduate students and seniors in Astronomy, Physics, and Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of current topics and research in an area of (theoretical) astrophysics that is not typically comprehensively covered in standard courses.
This year, the focus will be on interacting binary stars. These systems are ubiquitous and come in many different kinds (e.g., close main-sequence binaries, white-dwarf -- white-dwarf binaries, neutron-star -- white-dwarf binaries, binaries in common-envelope phases and many others). Theoretical understanding, tested by observations, of binary interactions allows us to get a better grasp not only of stellar astrophysics, but also of more fundamental physics (e.g., the measurement of the event horizon radius and black-hole spin through observations of HMXBs). We will address interacting binaries broadly and cover as much as possible of the ensemble of close binary systems from their underlying (astro)physics to cutting-edge research. Despite the course title, the content will not be purely theoretical. Rather, it will be at the interface of theory and observation, contrasting model with reality.
The format will be a mixture of presentation, discussion, and step-by-step going through selected important papers.
We will meet at the beginning of the term for an introductory and overview meeting. There, each participant will pick a special topic (e.g., a particular kind of interaction process or type of binary system) and a class meeting date on which they will be the discussion leader. Being discussion leader will entail (i) a literature search and the selection of one or multiple key papers for in-depth discussion, (ii) preparing a 30-minute introductory presentation (format rather open), (iii) leading the class discussion on the topic, and (iv) preparing a max 5-page write-up, summarizing the most salient aspects of the topic. I will work with discussion leaders and will provide guidance for (i)-(iv).
A typical class meeting will start out with a 30-minute introductory presentation followed by ~1.5 hours of discussion and detailed, step-by-step study of one or multiple key papers selected by the discussion lead. All participants will be required to read the selected paper(s) and be ready for presenting/discussing it/them in detail on the blackboard or with the projector. In each meeting, one participant will be chosen to do this (of course, with the help of the others).
As mentioned above, each discussion leader will provide the class with a max. 5-page handout summarizing their special topic and a (if necessary, multi-page) literature list of key papers. These summaries will be collected and combined to a PDF booklet as a record of the course and for future reference.
|Day, time, duration:||We'll meet once a week on Tuesdays, 14:00 - 16:00 (2 pm - 4 pm).|
|First class meeting:||01/05/2010|
|Impact:||2 hours of lecture/seminar per week, ~7 hours of nominal preparation per week.|
List of course topics: (may be extended)
|Basic Theory of Mass Transfer and Binary Evolution||Common Envelope Evolution|
|Blue Straggler Stars||Cataclysmic Variables|
|Coalescing White Dwarfs, Type Ia Supernovae,
and Accretion-Induced Collapse
|Type .Ia Supernovae|
|Double Neutron Stars||Millisecond Pulsars and Low-Mass X-Ray Binaries|
|High-Mass X-Ray Binaries and
Stellar-Mass Black Holes
|01/05/2010||Interacting Binaries -- An Overview||slides||Christian Ott|
|01/12/2010||Basic Theory of Mass Transfer and Binary Evolution||slides||Evan O'Connor|
|01/19/2010||Common Envelope Evolution||slides||Jeff Kaplan|
|01/26/2010, 3-5pm||Millisecond Pulsars and LMXBs||slides, notes||Leo Singer|
|02/02/2010||HMXBs and Stellar-Mass Black Holes||slides, Novikov & Thorne 1973||Varun Bhalerao|
|02/09/2010||Cataclysmic Variables||slides, notes||David Levitan|
|02/16/2010||Coalescing WDs, Type Ia SNe, & AIC||slides||Ryan Hammerly|
|03/02/2010||Blue Straggler Stars||slides||Christian Ott|
|Double Neutron Stars||notes||Ulrich Sperhake|
|Type .Ia SNe (and AIC)||slides Nissanke,slides Levitan||Samaya Nissanke and David Levitan|