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Dept. of
Physics &
Astronomy
Rutgers New Brunswick

Undergraduate Courses

We are pleased to announce a new Physics B.Sc. major option in Astrophysics. This Astrophysics Option offers a thorough introduction to the subject for all those who aspire to a career in research, technical development, or education in astrophysics. It provides suitable preparation for graduate study in astrophysics.

Prospective students interested in pursuing undergraduate studies in physics or astronomy at Rutgers should see the program description for details. The Department offers the following undergraduate courses in astronomy - most are co-listed both under subject codes 750 (Physics) and 105 (Astrophysics):


PHY 109 Astronomy and Cosmology (3) and PHY 110 Astronomy and Cosmology (3)

No prerequisite. For nonscience majors. May not be taken for major credit.

A predominantly descriptive introduction to current ideas concerning the nature and origin of the earth, the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe; neutron stars and black holes; the "big-bang"; the possibility of life outside the earth. 109: Development of our understanding of the solar system from the time of the Greeks to the present day. 110: Current understanding of stars, galaxies and the universe.


PHY 341, 342 Principles of Astrophysics (3,3)

Prerequisites: Two terms of introductory physics and two terms of calculus. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:341,342.)

Properties and processes of the solar system, the stars, and the galaxies; origin of the elements evolution of the stars and the universe; neutron stars and black holes.


PHY 343 Observational Radio Astronomy (3,3)

Lec. 1.5 hrs., lab. 3 hrs. Lab schedule will vary through the semester.
Prerequisites: 01:750:341,342 or permission of instructor. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:343.)

Observational study of the solar system, stars, and galaxies, using the Serin 3 meter radio telescope. Emphasizes computer techniques for data reduction and analysis. Topics may include calibrating system properties, the variability of the Sun, Jupiter, or quasars, and mapping the distribution of hydrogen in our Milky Way galaxy and measuring its rotation.


PHY 344 Observational Optical Astronomy (3,3)

Lec. 1.5 hrs., lab. 3 hrs. Students must have nighttime hours free for observing.
Prerequisite: Two terms of introductory physics. Concurrent registration in PHY 341-342 recommended. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:344.)

Observational study of the solar system, stars, and galaxies, using the Robert A. Schommer 0.5 meter telescope. Emphasis on computer techniques for data reduction and analysis. Topics may include the dimensions of lunar features, planetary satellite orbits, planetary rotation measurements, asteroid photometry, solar studies, Cepheid variable stars, gaseous nebulae, color-magnitude diagrams for star clusters, the structure and colors of galaxies, and the expansion and age of the universe.


PHY 441. Stars and Star Formation (3)

Prerequisites: 01:750:361, 385-386. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:441.)

Observed properties of stars. Internal structure of stars, energy generation and transport, neutrinos, solar oscillations. Evolution of isolated and double stars, red giants, white dwarfs, variable stars, supernovae. Challenges presented by formation of stars, importance of magnetic fields. Pre-main sequence stellar evolution.


PHY 442. High Energy Astrophysics and Radiative Processes (3)

Prerequisites: 01:750:361, 385-386. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:442.)

Radiation and scattering processes in plasma. Detection and X- and gamma-rays. Supernovae and remnants, pulsars. Gamma-ray bursts. Accretion disks and binary star outbursts. Quasars and active galactic nuclei. Cosmic rays.


PHY 443. Galaxies and the Milky Way (3)

Prerequisites: 01:750:381-382, 385-386. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:443.)

Properties of galaxies: photometry, kinematics and masses. Disk galaxies: spiral patterns, bars and warps, gas content, star formation rates, chemical evolution. Elliptical galaxies: shapes. Structure of the Milky Way. Nature of dark matter.


PHY 444. Introduction to Cosmology (3)

Prerequisites: 01:750:361, 385-386. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:444.)

Expansion of the universe, techniques for distance estimation. Large-scale structure of universe. Cosmological models: open, closed, flat and accelerating universes. Microwave background: observations, properties and origin. Problems of standard cosmology and preliminary concept of inflation.


PHY 497,498. Honors in Astronomy (1-4,1-4)

Prerequisite: Invitation of chairperson. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:497,498.)

Supervised independent reading or research in astronomy, culminating in an essay.


Graduate Courses

Prospective graduate students thinking of a thesis in astrophysics at Rutgers should be aware that there is a separate astronomy option in the departmental Graduate Program. This program includes a separate qualifier exam and several astrophysics courses (listed below). Recent graduates from this program have pursued a variety of careers.


PHY 541 Stars & Star Formation (3)

Prerequisites: 01:750:361, 385-386. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:441.)

Observed properties of stars. Internal structure of stars, energy generation and transport, neutrinos, solar oscillations. Evolution of isolated and double stars, red giants, white dwarfs, variable stars, supernovae. Challenges presented by formation of stars, importance of magnetic fields. Pre-main sequence stellar evolution.


PHY 543 Galaxies and the Milky Way (3)

Prerequisites: 01:750:381-382, 385-386. (Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:443.)

Properties of galaxies: photometry, kinematics and masses. Disk galaxies: spiral patterns, bars and warps, gas content, star formation rates, chemical evolution. Elliptical galaxies: shapes. Structure of the Milky Way. Nature of dark matter.


PHY 607 Galactic Dynamics (3)

Prerequisites: PHY 507, Classical Mechanics, and 750:341-342 Principles of Astrophysics or equivalent.

Equilibrium and stability of stellar systems and the dynamical evolution of galaxies. Modern approach to dynamics with a few practical examples of chaotic systems.


PHY 608 Cosmology (3)

Prerequisites: PHY 341-342 Principles of Astrophysics or equivalent.

Models of the universe, their fundamental parameters and their estimation from observations. Evolution of the universe from soon after its formation to the present. Growth of structure and the formation of galaxies.


PHY 609 Fluid and Plasma Physics (3)

Prerequisite: PHY 507 or equivalent.

The fundamental physical properties of liquids, gases, and ionized systems. Includes selected topics from compressible and incompressible flow, electromagnetic interactions, instabilities, turbulence, nonequilibrium phenomena, kinetics, superfluid mechanics, related experimental techniques, and other topics of current interest in fluid and plasma research.


PHY 610 Interstellar Matter (3)

Prerequisite: PHY 541 or equivalent.

Structure of the inter-stellar medium: its molecular, neutral atomic and plasma phases. Radiative transfer, dust, particle acceleration, magnetic fields and cosmic rays. Effects of supernovae, shock fronts and star formation.


PHY 612 High-Energy Astrophysics (3)

Prerequisite: PHY 341-342 or equivalent.

The origin and detection of high energy photons and particles in the universe. Radiation processes in low density media. Sites of high energy phenomena in astrophysics, such as supernovae, pulsars, active galactic nuclei and quasars and processes such as accretion and shocks.


PHY 617 General Theory of Relativity (3)

Prerequisites: PHY 507, Classical Mechanics, or equivalent, 504 Electricity and Magnetism.

Equivalence principle, tensor analysis with differential forms; review of special relativity and electromagnetism; affine connection and geodesic equation; curvature and geodesic deviation; Einstein field equations; Schwarzschild and Kerr solutions, homogeneous isotropic cosmologies; experimental and observational tests.


PHY 629 Observational Techniques (3)

Prerequisite: PHY 541 Introductory Astrophysics or equivalent.

Introduction to tools and techniques of modern observational astronomy. Survey of instruments and capabilities at current telescope sites around the world and in space. Data reduction methods. Practical experience with Robert A. Schommer Observatory.


PHY 689, 690 Advanced Topics in Astrophysics I and II (3,3)


Last revised Sept 21, 2007

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