The George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy
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Courses Taught by Mitchell Institute Faculty

The Mitchell Institute is committed to sharing the excitement of science with students of all backgrounds. The faculty regularly teach a number of courses ranging from undergraduate courses in introductory Astronomy to highly specialized graduate courses in High Energy Physics and Astrophysics. To learn more about our degree programs, please visit our Training section.


Undergraduate Astronomy Courses:

A qualitative approach to basic astronomy. Earth-Moon-Sun relations; history of astronomy and the scientific method; formation of stars and planets; basic properties of stars, their lives and ultimate fates; basic properties of galaxies; dark matter and dark energy; the Big Bang. Not open to students who have taken ASTR111 or ASTR314

Observational and laboratory course which may be taken in conjunction with ASTR 101, 111 or 314. Use of techniques and instruments of classical and modern astronomy.

This course is designed to give an intuitive understanding of the Big Bang and Black Holes, without mathematics, and de-mystify it for non-scientists. Students learn about the origin and evolution of the Cosmos and communicate their understanding using their own words to a lay audience

Roots of modern astronomy, the scienti?c method, fundamental physical laws, the nature and formation of planets, stars, and galaxies. Introduction to cosmology. Integrated lab includes hands-on experience with telescopes and digital imaging of celestial objects.

This course is designed to expand on some of the evidence for some of the topics discussed in ASTR 109. All labs will use interactive web-based materials and require only highschool level mathematics and data interpretation. Fulfills the Tier 2 science lab component.

Primarily for majors in science and engineering. Kepler

Background and tools used by astronomical researchers in performing analyses, including the reduction of photometric and spectroscopic data, bivariate and multivariate statistical methods, chi-squared minimization, time series analysis, Bayesian statistics, and Monte Carlo simulations. Familiarity with a higher level programming language would be helpful.

How stars are born, how their internal structure changes, what nuclear fuel they burn, their ultimate fate; extra-solar planets: detection methods, formation, properties, and habitability. Course discussions will rely on reading from the adopted texts, plus additional research articles.

Physical makeup of individual galaxies and Large Scale Structure in the universe; origin and eventual fate of the universe; interpretation of observational data as it relates to baryonic matter, Dark Matter, and models with Dark Energy. Course discussions will rely on reading from the adopted text, plus additional research articles.

A hands-on course on how to use of modern, computer driven telescopes and instrumentation to conduct astronomical data collection and analysis. Prior experience or instructor approval required.

Graduate Astronomy Courses:

An overview of the cosmic history of the Universe, focusing on the formation and evolution of galaxies. Topics include observations of galaxies, the Local Galactic Group, galaxy groups and clusters, the large-scale distribution of galaxies, the formation of structure in the Universe, evolution of galaxy stellar populations, luminosity functions, and radio galaxies and quasars.

The theory and practice of obtaining astronomical data and modern instrument design. Astrometric, photometric, spectroscopic, and interferometric measurements of astronomical sources. Photon detection techniques across the electromagnetic spectrum. Error analysis and signal-to-noise estimates. Introduction to model fitting, goodness-of-fit estimation, and applications of non-parametric statistical techniques.

Theoretical and observational studies of the internal structure, atmospheres, and evolution of stars. Topics include: thermodynamic properties of stellar interiors, nuclear processes, energy transport, stellar evolutionary models, stellar stability and pulsations, and chemical enrichment processes.

An up-to-date summary of the study of the Universe. The course will discuss the physical processes that form the bases of modern cosmological research programs. A wide range of physical processes will be introduced: supernova explosions, the bending and lensing of light by a gravitational field, the formation of large scale structures, and the nature of the cosmic microwave background.

An overview of the content and structure of our Milky Way Galaxy. The course will discuss the physical properties of stars and gas constituents of the Galaxy, the space distribution of stars and chemical elements, large-scale structure and kinematics, and formation scenarios. Comparison of formation models to modern observational results will also be included.

Theory and observation of low density plasmas in the interstellar medium, spectral line formation in active and normal galaxies, and the intergalactic medium. Thermodynamics and statistical mechanical description of the interstellar medium, measurement of galactic chemical abundances. Study of supernovae, planetary nebulae, HII regions, and quasars. Evolution of the chemical elements and star formation in the Universe. X-ray and radio properties of galaxies and galaxy clusters.

Graduate Physics Courses:

Fundamentals of elementary particle physics; particle classification, symmetry principles, relativistic kinematics and quark models; basics of strong, electromagnetic and weak interactions.

Fundamentals of elementary particle physics; particle classification, symmetry principles, relativistic kinematics and quark models; basics of strong, electromagnetic and weak interactions. Continuation of PHYS 627; introduction to gauge theories; the Standard Model.

Classical scalar, vector and Dirac fields; second quantization; scattering matrix and perturbation theory; dispersion relations. Renormalization.

Classical scalar, vector and Dirac fields; second quantization; scattering matrix and perturbation theory; dispersion relations. Renormalization.

This course will provide the basic principles of modern cosmology and particle physics, as well as their connections. This course will cover the expansion of the universe; the cosmic microwave background (CMB); the large-scale structure of the Universe; properties of particles; dark matter; Big Bang nucleosynthesis (BBN); and cosmic inflation.

Particle detection methods and data analysis techniques in the context of experimental particle physics, including computational and statistical methods in modern research.

An introduction to string theory with an emphasis on D-branes, string duality, and flux compactifications.

An introduction to string theory with an emphasis on D-branes, string duality, and flux compactifications; part II.

Role of supersymmetry in building phenomenological models and in string theory; relation to mathematical disciplines of algebraic geometry and topology; fundamentals of supersymmetry; building supersymmetric field theories.