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Processes of Radiation, the Interstellar Medium, and Star Formation

Credit 0.125 EFTSL
ICRAR Node University of Western Australia
Unit Code Enrol at UWA in PHYS5510 or PHYS5512 (consult with the UWA Astronomy & Astrophysics Coordinator)
Offering Semester 2
Content Stars form in and from the interstellar medium (ISM), and then generate radiation that passes through the ISM. Astrophysicists gather information about stars and the ISM, and indeed about the entirety of the observable universe, by passively observing radiation such as this, and then using the laws of physics discovered on Earth and assumed to be universal, to measure the physical conditions at the distant astronomical source of radiation and in the intervening space between the source and the observer, so that they can test and develop astrophysical models of the observed systems. In this unit, students learn about the physics of the electromagnetic radiative processes encountered in astrophysics that underlie this powerful scientific paradigm, and then see the paradigm’s application to learning about the ISM and star formation. Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to read and understand current research papers on the topics of ISM and star formation, and apply their knowledge of radiative processes to interpret measurements from a broad range of astrophysical systems.
Learning Outcomes At the conclusion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. identify the radiative process(es) that give rise to different spectra with 100% accuracy.
  2. solve theoretical problems relating to the physics of radiative processes, using correct physics concepts, terminology, and mathematical methods, with 100% accuracy.
  3. accurately explain the underlying physics of each radiative process considered in the module, using words, diagrams, accurate physics principles and concepts, and a minimum of mathematics, at a level that a commencing level-3 physics student should be able to clearly understand.
  4. use data about observed radiation together with sound physical assumptions to determine all measurable physical conditions at the source of radiation, with an accuracy and precision limited only by experimental uncertainty and the validity of the assumptions.
  5. evaluate the analysis of spectral data used in a recent astronomy & astrophysics publication, by re-analysing the data and so testing the arguments and conclusions reached in the publication.
  6. read and understand current research papers on the topics of ISM and star formation.
Assessment Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows:

  1. Assignments (45%)
  2. Oral Exam (20%)
  3. Written Exam (35%)

Further information will be  available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.

Unit Coordinator(s)
  1. Radiative Processes: Matthew Young
  2. Interstellar Medium, and Star-Formation Processes: Barbara Catinella