Courses Catalogue

Syllabus of the course: Physics pf the Interstellar Medium

In this web page we provide the syllabus of the course Physics pf the Interstellar Medium, 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.

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Goal of the course
    The course is for graduate students with the appropriate background. The basic purpose of the course is a detailed presentation of the physics of the interstellar medium and the process of interstellar cloud formation and star formation.
  1. Introduction
    Definition of ISM. Phases and Composition. Energy densities
  2. Atomic & Molecular Radiation
    Energy Levels of Atoms and Molecules. Spontaneous Emission. Stimulated Emission. Absorption. Zeeman Splitting.
  3. Thermodynamics & Ionization of ISM
    Partition Function. Detailed Balance. Photoionization. Collisional Ionization. Cosmic Ray Ionization. Heating Sources. Cooling.
  4. Fluid Dynamics Introduction
    Conservation Laws. Euler Equations. Navier-Stokes Equations.
  5. Interstellar Dust
    Observed Properties. Composition. Grain Charging and Chemistry. Grain Alignment and Polarization.
  6. Cosmic Rays
    Energy Spectrum. Detection. Impact on ISM
  7. Explosive Processes
    Shock Waves. Ionization Fronts. Supernova. HII Regions.
  8. Gravitation & Star Formation.Virial Theorem. Gravitational Instabilities. Cloud Formation. Angular Momentum Problem. Magnetic Flux Problem. Ambipolar Diffusion. Star Formation Efficiency. Observations of Star Formation. Schmidt-Kennicutt Law.

Notes and Material distributed in Class.
Recommended Bibliography:

  • Spitzer, L. Jr. "Physical Processes in the Interstellar Medium” (Wiley Classics Library)
  • Draine, B. T. “Physics of the Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium” (Princeton Series in Astrophysics)
  • Whittet, D. C. B. “Dust in the Galactic Environment” (Institute of Physics Publishing
  • University of Crete - Department of Physics  - Voutes University Campus - GR-70013 Heraklion, Greece
    phone: +30 2810 394300 - email: