Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Major in Astrophysics

Major Requirements

The Astrophysics Major, leading to a Bachelor of Science degree, provides a thorough introduction to the subject. It is suitable for those with an interest in astronomy who aspire to a career in astronomy research, science education, science journalism, technical development, and other professional areas. Prospective majors should consult an adviser in the Department of Physics and Astronomy before choosing their courses.

In the astrophysics major, at least 15 credits of physics or astrophysics courses at the 300-level or higher that are applied towards the major must be completed at Rutgers New Brunswick.

Required courses and suggested curricula for honors students and other well-prepared students:

An alternate curriculum is available for students who did not begin with the Honors Physics sequence:

Students who took 01:750:203-204 (or 201-202) as their introductory physics sequence should consult a departmental adviser to plan an appropriate curriculum for the astrophysics major.

Departmental Honors Program

The chairperson of the department will invite astrophysics majors who have shown considerable ability by the end of their junior year to participate in the departmental honors program. Candidates for honors either (1) take 01:750:497 and 498, write a thesis and conduct a seminar on a project undertaken in the senior year, or (2) take two Physics and Astronomy graduate courses. Honors are awarded on the basis of the excellence of the honors project (if applicable), general performance in physics and astrophysics courses, and recommendations of the faculty.

Minor Requirements

The following courses are required for the Astronomy Minor:

01:750:203-204 (or any other equivalent physics sequence)
01:750:205-206 (or 229-230 or 275-276)
01:750:341, 342, 343, 344

The grade-point average for all courses applied toward the minor must be at least 2.0. No more than one D may be applied toward the minor. Three of the four 300-level courses must be taken at Rutgers- New Brunswick. Physics majors or minors who also wish to minor in astronomy must complete 01:750:341, 342, 343, 344. These courses may not also be used to satisfy requirements for the major or minor in physics.

Course Descriptions

Descriptions of the ASTROPHYSICS courses required for the major are given below. For a description of the PHYSICS courses that are required for the Astrophysics Major, see http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/ugrad/ug-courses.html.

Some of the courses listed below have home pages on the Web. Links to these pages can be found at http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/homes-ugcourses.shtml.

01:750:341,342. 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.

01:750:343. OBSERVATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY (3)

Lec. 1.5 hrs., lab. 3 hrs. Prerequisites: 01:750:341,342 or permission of instructor. Lab schedule will vary through the semester. 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.

01:750:344. OBSERVATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY (3)

Lec. 1.5 hrs., lab. 3 hrs. Prerequisites: 01:750:341,342 or permission of instructor. Students must have nighttime hours free for observing. Credit not given for both this course and 01:105:344.
Observational study of the solar system, stars, and galaxies, using the Serin 0.5 meter optical telescope. Emphasizes computer techniques for data reduction and analysis. Topics may include the dimensions of lunar features, planetary satellite orbits, color-magnitude diagrams for star clusters, and the structure and colors of galaxies.

01:750:441. 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.

01:750:442. 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.

01:750:443. 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.

01:750:444. 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.

01:750:497,498. 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 research or reading in astronomy, culminating in a seminar conducted by the student.


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