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PX387 Astrophysics

Lecturer: Boris Gänsicke

You will find here the material shown in the lectures as Powerpoint file (ppt) that you can download, as well as web pages to view online. Have a look at the syllabus for more details on the aims and the content of the course. Get the lecture captures here.

1. Observational instrumentation: optical & X-ray telescopes, CCD detectors, imaging, spectroscopy ppt pdf web
2. Accretion onto compact objects: a powerful energy source, Eddington limit ppt pdf web
3. Binary stars: Roche potential, Lagrange points, binary star configurations, interactions in close binaries, angular momentum and mass transfer between two stars, conservative mass transfer, stable and unstable mass transfer, orbital angular momentum loss, common envelope evolution, binary star zoology ppt pdf web
4. Black holes: mass measurements of stellar black holes in binaries and of the black hole in the centre of the Galaxy, ultraluminous X-ray sources, and the possible existence of intermediate mass black holes ppt pdf web
5. Accretion discs: structure, emitted spectrum, stability, boundary layer, indirect imaging ppt pdf web
6. Jets: Jets in AGN, superluminal motion, relativistic beaming, jets in young stellar objects, SS433, escape velocity, jet driving mechanisms ppt pdf web
7. Accretion onto magnetic stars: Alven radius, the origin of magnetic fields in compact stars, accretion columns, conditions in the pre- and post-shock plasma, gas dynamics, thermal bremsstrahlung, cyclotron radiation ppt pdf web
8. Cosmic explosions: degenerate material, classical novae (explosive nuclear shell burning), supersoft X-ray binaries (stable nuclear shell burning), SNIa progenitors, supernovae type Ia = exploding white dwarfs, all other types of supernovae = collapse of massive stars, gamma ray bursts ppt pdf web
9. Pulsars: History, estimating B from P and P-dot, millisecond pulsars = old pulsars, recycled in binary stars, period glitches, effects to on pulsar timing measurements, binary pulsars as test cases for GR, the dispersion measure, the pulsar emission mechanism, pulse profiles ppt pdf web


Problem classes:Questions and Solutions

Previous exams available from the Library


Additional (optional) reading material (if you can not get the full-text papers, use the Warwick Library Proxy):

    Chapter 1:

    Chapter 3:

    • Ransom et al's discovery of A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system (see the BBC's new item)
    • Van Kerkwijk et al's paper on the detection of Doppler boosting in the light curve of an eclipsing binary
    • Gänsicke et al's paper finding the elusive "minimum period spike" in the period distribution of cataclysmic variables

    Chapter 4:

    Chapter 5:

    • Shakura & Sunyaev's seminal paper on the structure accretion discs, and a recent discussion on the possible values of "alpha"
    • Gänsicke et al's paper on a metal-rich debris disc around a white dwarf, see also this sequence of cartoons
    • Tanaka et al's paper on a relativistic Kα emission line from close to the supermassive black hole in MCG-6-30-15
    • Marsh & Horne's paper introducing the method of Doppler tomography

    Chapter 6:

    • Several papers by Margon et al. announcing the discovery of SS433, and coming up with the basic model for the observed radial velocity changes: 1979a, 1979b, 1980
    • One of the most recent papers attempting a mass determination of the compact object in SS433 - not overwhelmingly exciting except for the conclusion that we still don't know if it is a NS or BH.

    Chapter 8:

    Chapter 9: