Courses Catalogue

Syllabus of the course: Astrophysics III

In this web page we provide the syllabus of the course Astrophysics III, offered by the Department of Physics.
The list of the courses offered during the current accademic year is available here.
The list of all courses offered by the Department of Physics is available here.

InstructorV. Pavlidou
ProgramMonday, 09:00-11:00, Lecture Room 4 Wednesday, 09:00-11:00, Lecture Room 4
Web page
Goal of the course

The target audience for this course includes postgraduate students and advanced undergraduate students with appropriate background. The topic of the course is radiative processes that are relevant in astrophysical systems. Recommended background includes Astrophysics I and II (Φ-230, Φ-331) Electromagnetism (Φ-301), Modern Physics (Φ-201) and Quantum Mechanics (Φ-303). This course is taught in English.


  • Continuum Emission Processes. 3 particle distribution laws: Classical Maxwell-Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac, Bose-Einstein; Radiative Transfer: optical depth, source function, mean free path; Thermal equilibrium: black body radiation, the Planck function; Brightness temperature; Four examples of radiative transfer: planetary nebulae, active galaxies, HI line emission, mbr; The Einstein Coefficients; Radiation from accelerating charged particles; The radiation equations (from Maxwell’s equations); Radiation from non-relativistic charged particles; Thomson scattering; Cyclotron radiation and bremsstrahlung; Radiation from relativistic charged particles – synchrotron radiation; Example: X-ray bremsstrahlung emission from clusters of galaxies. Interstellar absorption; Synchrotron radiation – detailed treatment and simple derivation; Polarized synchrotron radiation; Synchrotron self absorption; Luminosity and energy requirements of a synchrotron source; Equipartition, equipartition angular size, equipartition brightness temperature; Example – minimum energy of radio lobes of Cygnus A; Origin of power law energy spectrum; Thomson, Compton and Inverse Compton Scattering; A note on Spectral Index – comparison between synchrotron and inverse Compton spectra; Examples: synchrotron and inverse Compton emission from quasars; The inverse Compton catastrophe; Inverse Compton scattering by non-relativistic particles – the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Effect; Example: Measurement of the ubble Constant from combined SZE and X-ray observations;
  • Atomic Structure Key quantum mechanics results; The One-electron Atom; Atomic Wave Functions; Multi-electron systems; The Hamiltonian of a Complicated Atom; Ionization of Atoms; The Saha Equation; Example: An interesting example in astrophysics; Multipole fields and the fine structure constant
  • Spectral Line Emission Processes Radiative transitions (non-matrix and matrix approaches); Collisional transitions; HI 21 cm radiation; Molecular structure and diatomic molecule emission; Example: CO emission
BibliographyClass notes (will be distributed before each lecture)
G.B. Rybicki and A.P. Lightman, “Radiative Processes in Astrophysics"
F. Shu, "The Physics of Astrophyiscs, Vol. 1: Radiation"

University of Crete - Department of Physics  - Voutes University Campus - GR-71003 Heraklion, Greece
phone: +30 2810 394300 - fax: +30 2810 394301