George Mason University 1997-98 Catalog Catalog Index
Course Descriptions

Search the 1997-1998 Catalog:


Astronomy Courses (ASTR)



Physics and Astronomy

103 Astronomy (3:3:0). Introduction to origin of life, earth, planets and sun, stars, galaxies, quasars, nature of space radiation, and general theory of relativity. Not for physics majors.

111 Introduction to Modern Astronomy I (3:3:0). ASTR 111 and 112 replace ASTR 105. Topics include history of astronomy from prehistory to the present, evolution of the solar system, properties of the planets, scientific method, critical thinking, the nature of light, and the principles of telescope design. ASTR 111, 112, 113, 114 can be used to fulfill the eight-hour lab science requirement; not for physics majors.

112 Introduction to Modern Astronomy Lab I (1:0:2). Corequisite: ASTR 111. Laboratory portion of two-semester introductory astronomy sequence.

113 Introduction to Modern Astronomy II (3:3:0). ASTR 113 and 114 replace ASTR 106. Topics include electromagnetic radiation, stellar evolution, the interstellar medium, galaxies, cosmology, the scientific method, and critical thinking.

114 Introduction to Modern Astronomy Lab II (1:0:2). Corequisite: ASTR 113. Laboratory portion of two-semester introductory astronomy sequence.

228 Foundations of Cosmological Thought (3:3:0). Examines the scientific, historical, and philosophical foundations and development of cosmological thought from antiquity to the present. Emphasizes a qualitative understanding of the development of cosmology concluding with the present concept of the origin and evolution of the universe. No advanced background in mathematics or the natural sciences is required.

328 Introduction to Astrophysics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 303, 305, 361 and MATH 214. Topics include physical concepts, magnitudes of stars, Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, stellar radiation, interstellar matter, dust and molecules, and others.

390 Topics in Astronomy (1-4:1-4:0). Selected topics in astronomy not covered in fixed content courses. May not be included for credit by physics majors within the 45 hours of physics courses required for the B.S. degree or within the 31 hours of physics courses required for the B.A. degree.

428 Relativity and Cosmology (3:3:0). Prerequisite: MATH 214 or 306; PHYS 303, 305, and 352; or permission of instructor. Special relativity, four-dimensional space-time, general relativity, non-Euclidean geometries, geodesics, and field equations; tests of general theory of relativity, black holes, cosmology, models of the universe, remnant blackbody radiation, big bang cosmology, thermodynamics, and the universe.

505 Fundamentals of Astronomy (3:3:0). Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor. Emphasis on the connection of astronomy to other disciplines as well as the recent developments in astronomy. Planet earth, its origin and past history, and the origin of life. Ancient, Renaissance, and modern astronomers. Basic physics. Tools of the astronomer. The solar system, the sun, stars, our galaxy, quasars, general relativity, and cosmology. Recommended for teachers of general science.

530 Astrophysics (3:3:0). Formerly PHYS 530. Prerequisites: PHYS 303, 305, 361; MATH 214. Survey of contemporary astrophysics; topics include physical concepts, stellar spectra, Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, stellar atmospheres, stellar structure, interstellar matter, stellar evolution, high-energy phenomena, hydrodynamical processes in astrophysics, accretion disk formation, shock formation.

532 Physics of the Interplanetary Medium (3:3:0). Formerly PHYS 532. Prerequisites: PHYS 303, 305, 361; MATH 214. Structure of interplanetary medium. Interplanetary disturbances produced by solar activity and their terrestrial effects. Charged particle motion in the earth's magnetosphere. Planetary atmospheres. Solar wind, comets, asteroids, and meteoroids.

535 Space Instrumentation and Exploration (3:3:0). Formerly PHYS 535. Prerequisites: PHYS 352; MATH 213. Survey of the instruments, devices, and methods used for space and planetary exploration. Remote sensing of earth and other solar system bodies. Planned manned and unmanned missions by the United States and other countries.

761/CSI 761 N-Body Methods and Particle Simulations (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 613 and CSI 717, or permission of instructor. Study of particle methods as a tool in solving a variety of physical systems. Study and development of the numerical results and visualization of these results in complex physical systems are emphasized. Applications and projects include stellar and galaxy dynamics, smoothed particle hydrodynamics, plasma simulations, and semiconductor device theory. Algorithms on parallel and vectorized systems are included.

764/CSI 764 Computational Astrophysics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: ASTR 530 or permission of instructor. Study of statistical mechanics concepts important in astrophysics. Presentation of unified approach to particle acceleration and interaction theory based on analytical and numerical analysis of Boltzmann and Liouville equations. Discussion of computational methods relevant for particle transport problems, with emphasis on Fokker-Planck and Monte-Carlo solution techniques. Applications from space sciences include studies of cosmic ray acceleration, photon comptonization, particle transport in the near-earth environment, energy transport in stellar atmospheres, and self-gravitating system dynamics.

765/CSI 765 High-Energy and Accretion Astrophysics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 502, 513, ASTR 530, or permission of instructor. Overview of the field of atomic and nuclear physics, including nuclear reactions of use to high-energy astrophysics. Radiation processes in cosmic plasmas emphasizing quantum mechanical calculations. Stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis. Computational models of stellar evolution. Binary stars and accretion disks. Numerical models of the structure of accretion disks. Compact stars, white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Acceleration processes and cosmic rays. Interstellar medium and propagation of cosmic rays. High-energy processes in the center of galaxies. Ground and space-based techniques and observations.

766 Relativity and Cosmology (3:3:0). Formerly PHYS 531. Prerequisites: ASTR 530 and MATH 314, or permission of instructor. Special relativity, four-dimensional space-time, general relativity, non-Euclidean geometries, geodesic and field equations, test of general relativity theory, black holes, cosmic background radiation, thermodynamic considerations in cosmology, and cosmological models.

769/CSI 769 Topics in Space Sciences (3:3:0). Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Selected topics in space sciences not covered in fixed-content space sciences courses. May be repeated for credit as needed.


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