Graduate Studies in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology
The Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (AST) MSc/PhD
Course List for Astrophysical Sciences and Technology
IMPORTANT: Semester transitionRIT will transition from the quarter system to semesters, starting Fall 2013. As a result, there will be significant changes to the curriculum and credit requirements. The information this page will be updated to reflect these changes during Summer 2013. In the meantime, click the links below for summaries of semester course and credit requirements:
AST Curriculum (until Spring 2013)The core curriculum is common for the Ph.D. and M.S. programs. Students must take Graduate Seminar I, II, III and the 6 core courses listed below (for a total of 24 quarter credit hours of coursework).
AST Core Courses1060-701, 702, 703 Graduate Seminar I, II, III (3 research credits total)
1060-710 Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Astrophysics* (course website).
1060-711 Astronomical Observational Techniques and Instrumentation
1060-720 Stellar Structure and Evolution I*
1060-730 Radiative Processes I* (course website).
1060-740 Galactic Astrophysics and the Interstellar Medium I*
1060-750 Extragalactic Astrophysics I
* offered annually
AST Electives1060-712 Astronomical Systems I
1060-714 Computational Methods in Astrophysics I
1060-715 Computational Methods in Astrophysics II
1060-721 Stellar Structure and Evolution II
1060-731 Radiative Processes II
1060-732 High Energy Astrophysics I
1060-733 High Energy Astrophysics II
1060-741 Galactic Astrophysics and the Interstellar Medium II
1060-751 Extragalactic Astrophysics II
1060-752 Cosmology I
1060-753 Cosmology II
1060-760 General Relativity I
1060-761 General Relativity II
1060-790 Independent Study (1-4 credits)
Non-AST electivesSubject to approval, students may choose elective courses from many other RIT graduate programs. Some examples are listed below. There are many more courses that may be appropriate, but which are not listed here.
AST Course Descriptions1060-710 Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Astrophysics (top) This course provides an introduction to the applied mathematical and statistical tools used frequently in astrophysics - including data reduction and analysis and computational astrophysics. Topics will include Numerical Methods, Probability and Statistics, Frequency Domain Analysis
1060-711 Astronomical Observational Techniques and Instrumentation (top) This course will survey multiwavelength astronomical observing techniques and instrumentation. Students will gain an understanding of how the telescopes, detectors, and instrumentation in the major ground based and space based observatories function and how to use them. Observatories to be studied may include the Very Large Array, GBT, ALMA, Spitzer, HST, Gemini, JWST, and Chandra. Students will plan and carry out a multiwavelength archival program on a topic of their choice.
1060-712 Astronomical Systems I (top) This is a practical course that will teach students the requisite knowledge needed to design and fabricate modern astronomical instrumentation systems. It would be useful for those who are interested in either fabricating or using such instruments. The course will cover aspects of optical design. Electronics design, mechanical design, computer control, and project management. Knowledge of the performance of the individual components making up the system will be required as will their interplay with each other. The specific measurement challenge will vary from year to year but may include designing a fiber-fed imaging spectrometer, a sub-millimeter detector system, or an infrared camera.
1060-714 Computational Methods in Astrophysics I (top) This course surveys the different ways that scientists use computers to address problems in astrophysics. The course will choose several common problems (time-series analysis, N-body simulations, etc.); for each one, it will provide an introduction to the problem, review the literature for recent examples, and illustrate the basic mathematical technique. In each of these segments, students will write their own code in an appropriate language.
1060-715 Computational Methods in Astrophysics II (top) This course is the second part of a two quarter series. This course continues to explore the methods scientists use to study problems in astrophysics which cannot be solved analytically. The first half of the course will introduce the student to new techniques (adaptive mesh, smoothed particle hydrodynamics, etc.) which do not appear in the first course (Computational Methods in Astrophysics I). In the second half of the course, students will plan and execute a large software project, more detailed and sophisticated than those small projects done in the first course.
1060-720 Stellar Structure and Evolution I (top) An overview of the physical principles governing the internal structures and energy generation mechanisms of stars, as well as brief introductions to the processes of star formation and the late stages of stellar evolution. Topics covered include: static stellar structure; stellar energy generation and transport; simple stellar atmospheres; characteristic timescales for and stages of stellar formation and evolution; the transition from main-sequence star to red giant and stellar remnant.
1060-721 Stellar Structure and Evolution II (top) The second of a two-course sequence concerning the internal structures and temporal evolution of stars. Topics covered include: stellar pulsation & mass loss; binary star systems; protostellar contraction, accretion, and outflow; planetary nebulae and supernovae; degenerate stars. (prereq: Stellar Structure & Evolution I)
1060-730 Radiative Processes I (top) This course will survey the emission mechanisms which which produce radiation in astrophysical environments, including thermal bremstrahlung, synchrotron, comptonization, and pair production.
1060-731 Radiative Processes II (top) This course is the second quarter of a two-quarter sequence. This course will survey the emission mechanisms which produce radiation in astrophysical environments, including atomic and molecular line emission; and the process which scatter radiation, e.g., Thompson, Raleigh, and Mie scattering.
1060-732 High Energy Astrophysics I (top) This course will survey violent astrophysical phenomena including Supernovae, X-ray binaries, Active Galactic Nuclei and Gamma Ray Bursts. It will examine physical processes associated with the emission of high-energy radiation, with the production of high energy particles, with accretion discs around compact objects and with the production and propagation of astrophysical jets. It will review current models for the sources of high-energy phenomena. Emphasis will be placed on current models for Active Galactic Nuclei, which produce a wide range of high-energy phenomena.
1060-733 High Energy Astrophysics II (top) This course is the second in a two quarter sequence. This course will survey the properties Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) including distances, luminosities and size scales; observational classification; the central engine. Standard black- hole model; AGN accretion disks; the Eddington limit; evidence for supermassive black-holes; continuum emission; radio sources; broad emission lines; unification theories; lifecycles of AGN
1060-740 Galactic Astrophysics and the Interstellar Medium I (top) First course in a two-course sequence on Galactic Astrophysics and the Interstellar Medium. This course will cover stellar and galactic dynamics with special application to the Milky Way galaxy. Topics will include theory of orbits; Jeans's theorem and equilibrium of stellar systems; the virial theorem; the Jeans equations; gravitational instabilities; structure and kinematics of the Milky Way.
1060-741 Galactic Astrophysics and the Interstellar Medium II (top) Second course in a two-course sequence on Galactic Astrophysics and the Interstellar Medium. This course will cover structure and energetics of the interstellar medium (ISM), with special application to the Milky Way galaxy. Topics will properties of the ISM; molecular clouds and cloud cores; HII regions; outflows and shock waves; dust.
1060-750 Extragalactic Astrophysics I (top) First course in a two-course sequence on extragalactic astrophysics. Topics in this first course are the properties of galaxies, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and the intergalactic medium.
1060-751 Extragalactic Astrophysics II (top) Second course in a two-course sequence on extragalactic astrophysics. Topics in this course are the properties of clusters of galaxies, the formation and evolution of clusters, the intracluster medium, and activity in galaxies.
1060-752 Cosmology I (top) First course in a two-course sequence on Cosmology. The course will present the foundations of Cosmology, including the Cosmological principle and its consequences, Newtonian cosmology, and types of universes.
1060-753 Cosmology II (top) Second course in a two-course sequence on Cosmology. This will present the studies of the Early Universe and Inflation; Thermal Evolution of the Universe; nucleosynthesis; baryogenesis; Cosmic Microwave Radiation; Large Scale Structure and Galaxy Formation models; Dark Matter; Current Universe: Dark Energy and the Cosmic Acceleration.
1060-760 General Relativity I (top) Einstein's theory of General Relativity is a cornerstone of modern physics and astrophysics. It embraces a wealth of frontier topics including curved spacetime, black holes, gravitational waves, and cosmology. The development of this first course follows a physics first approach. The course will cover various aspects of both Special and General Relativity theories, with applications to astrophysical situations where strong gravitational fields play a critical role, like black holes and gravitational radiation. A second course will address more in-depth mathematical aspects of the theory and its application to cosmology.
1060-761 General Relativity II (top) The goals of this course are: 1) to introduce the students to General Relativity using modern geometrical techniques, including a brief introduction to relevant aspects of set theory, integration on differential manifolds, and geometrical descriptions of tensors, 2) to introduce the students to the techniques used (both analytical and numerical) to solve the Einstein Equations, and 3) to introduce the students to advanced topics in General Relativity.
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