01:750:346: Observational Astrophysics
Spring 2022

Lecturer/Instructor
Prof. Eric Gawiser
Serin W303
Phone: 848-445-8874
Email: gawiser[at]physics.rutgers.edu

TA/Instructor
Nicole Firestone
Email: nmf82[at]physics.rutgers.edu

Learning Management System: Canvas

Course meetings
Lectures: Wednesday 12:10-1:30pm, Zoom until Jan. 31, then ARC 108
Project Meetings: Friday 2:00-3:20pm, Zoom until Jan. 31, then ARC 108
Office hours: via Zoom, TBD

Textbook
This course does not have an official textbook.

Overview
The Physics & Astronomy 346 course offers a panchromatic introduction to observational astrophysics i.e., spanning the radio, optical/infrared, and X-ray regimes. Students will gain experience working with data in at least two of these wavelength regimes, and with both imaging and spectroscopy. A significant goal of the course is to develop skills (including programming and data analysis) that are crucial for research and other STEM careers.

Schedule
Lectures: The sequence of lecture topics may be updated during the course of the semester.
Projects: A majority of each student's grade will be determined by two group projects that will occupy slightly less than half of the semester apiece. The first project will feature the analysis of imaging data; the second project will feature the analysis of spectroscopic data. Groups will be assigned on the basis of preference among multiple project options. Weekly meetings of your group with one of the instructors to work on the project are required. Each project will have three key milestones:

WEEK DATES LECTURE TOPIC DUE
1 Jan 19,21 course organization; CCD data RUPhast setup & intro; choose groups
2 Jan 26,28 practical aspects of observing begin 1st Project
3 Feb 2,4 imaging vs. spectroscopy; coherent vs. incoherent detection  
4 Feb 9,11 An optical imaging survey with the Dark Energy Camera 1st Project data check
5 Feb 16,18 Fourier transforms, convolution, and cross-correlations  
6 Feb 23,25 radio astronomy: telescopes  
7 Mar 2,4 1st Project presentations  
8 Mar 9,11 radio astronomy: aperture synthesis nebular spectroscopy
1st Project report due Mar 9
9 Mar 23,25 radio astronomy: deconvolution begin 2nd Project
10 Mar 30,32 X-ray astronomy  
11 Apr 6,8 optical/IR astronomy: telescopes and instruments 2nd Project data check
12 Apr 13,15 optical/IR astronomy: adaptive optics  
13 Apr 20,22 gravitational wave astrophysics  
14 Apr 27,29 2nd Project presentations 2nd Project report due May 3

Grading
Your course grade will be based on a combination of four elements:

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to maintain the highest level of academic integrity. You must follow the university policy on academic integrity.

Use of external sources to obtain solutions to homework assignments or exams is cheating and is a violation of the University Academic Integrity policy. Cheating in the course may result in penalties ranging from a zero on an assignment to an F for the course to expulsion from the University. Posting of homework assignments, exams, recorded lectures, or other lecture materials to external sites without the permission of the instructor is a violation of copyright and constitutes a facilitation of dishonesty, which may result in the same penalties as explicit cheating.

Not only does the use of such sites violate the University's policy on Academic Integrity, using such sites interferes with your achievement of the learning you are paying tuition for. Assignments, quizzes, and exams are given not simply to assign grades, but to promote the active learning that occurs through completing assignments on your own. Getting the right answer is much less important than learning how to get the right answer. This learning is critical to your success in subsequent courses and your careers.

Almost all original work is the intellectual property of its authors. These works include syllabi, lecture slides, recorded lectures, homework problems, exams, and other materials, in either printed or electronic form. The authors hold copyrights in these works, which are protected by U.S. statutes. Copying this work or posting it online without the permission of the author violates the author's rights. More importantly, these works are the product of the author's efforts; respect for these efforts and for the author's intellectual property rights is an important value that members of the university community take seriously.

Other items
Last updated January 13, 2022.