Astronomy 330/Natural Science 336:

Supernovae, and the Fate of the Universe

Spring 2004, Hampshire College

Supernovae represent the final, explosive stage in the evolution of certain varieties of stars. They synthesize and expel heavy elements, heat the interstellar medium, trigger vigorous bursts of star formation, create neutron stars and sometimes black holes, and produce energetic cosmic rays. Some types of supernovae are also exceedingly useful cosmological tools, and have been used to study the expansion history of the Universe. These studies have recently revealed the surprising result that the expansion of the Universe is currently accelerating, perhaps due to a nonzero cosmological constant.

This course will concentrate on the physical processes that underlie supernova explosions as well as their use as primary and secondary extragalactic distance indicators. There will be a particular focus on how observations are used to constrain theoretical models. Students will read from current primary literature in addition to a more introductory astrophysics text. Additional topics covered include supernova classification schemes, core-collapse mechanism, physics of degenerate matter, nucleosynthesis, radiative transfer in expanding atmospheres, and cosmology. Prerequisites: Two semesters of physics, one semester of calculus, and at least one prior astronomy course at the 200 level or above (recommended), or permission of the instructor. Class will meet once a week for 3 hours.

Professor Douglas Leonard,
413-559-5422, 201 Cole Science Center, Hampshire College
413-545-2017, 517d Lederle Graduate Research Tower, UMass-Amherst
Meeting Time Tuesday, 3:30 -- 6:30 PM
Meeting Place Cole Science Center, Rm. 333, Hampshire College
Office Hours Doug's office hour schedule

Have a nice summer, and thanks for a great semester!

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    Last Updated 2004.05.15 By Douglas Leonard