Astro 250: Astronomy Bizarre
The outline below gives the tentative schedule and timing of
topics. In the past, we have strayed signficantly from this outline to
follow up on the particular interests and curiosity of the students, and on
current discoveries; I hope this happens again this time!
Tentative COURSE OUTLINE
UNIT 1: STARS BIZARRE (3 weeks)
- Overview of stellar evolution
- The Death of the Sun
- The helium flash, thermal pulses, and planetary nebulae
- The fate of our Solar System
- White Dwarfs: formation, pulsation, and crystallization
- Supernovae: Type I, Type II, stellar nucleosynthesis
- Neutron Star Formation and Structure
- Pulsars: timing and uses - GR and Planets!
- Black widow pulsars
- Black Hole Formation and Gamma Ray Bursts
- The observational mysteries
- models good and bad
- Hypernovae and colliding neutron stars
UNIT 2: RELATIVITY, BLACK HOLES, AND TIME (4 weeks)
- Introduction to Special Relativity
- From Galileo to Einstein
- constancy of the speed of light, and its consequences
- General Relativity and the structure of Black Holes
- The principle of Equivalence
- The Event horizon
- Fundamental Properties (mass, charge, spin)
- Curved space
- Time warps
- Stellar X-ray Binaries - accretion
- Galactic nuclei
- The Universe?
- The Nature of Time
- the three time scales: psychological, cosmological, and thermodynamic
- Is time local near a black hole?
- Can we travel in time?
UNIT 3: COSMOLOGY (4 weeks)
- The expanding universe
- Observations of the expansion
- Open vs closed vs flat
- Dark Matter in Galaxies: rotation curves, gravitational lensing
- The Big Bang
- Discovery and consequences (scientific and philosophical)
- "The First Three Minutes": origin of matter/antimatter, nucleosynthesis
- The origin of structure: COBE/MAP results
- Open, Closed, Flat, Accelerating ?
- Hubble diagram tests
- Present mass density: cosmic dark matter?
- Past mass density: measured nucleosynthetic stuff, clumpiness
- Dark Energy?
- The Ages of the Universe: stellar ages, expansion age,
UNIT 4: LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE (4 weeks)
- The Drake Equation -- or, what was the question?
- Conditions for life on Earth, Mars, and elsewhere
- Liquid water - right distance from Sun
- time to develop and grow
- Earth life timeline
- Mars? Europa?
- Unique? or Common? The Drake Equation Factors
- Stars like our Sun
- Planetary systems beyond our own
- Biological/sociological factors
- Search Strategies
- Direct travel? Nah
- Radio communication: frequencies, power and technique, message contents
- Probability of success vs. funds and equipment
- What if we do find them?
- Have we seen them?
- UFOs, past and present
- universal consciousness
- Do they want to be seen?
- Cosmic Catastrophes, the Dinosaurs, and Our Future
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