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Multiwavelength Astronomy - CED00015M

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  • Department: Centre for Lifelong Learning
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Ben Johnstone-Bray
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module will discuss the theory and practice of modern observational astronomy across the electromagnetic spectrum. The module will begin with a review of classical electromagnetism and radiation physics, before looking in detail at the physics, technology and techniques of used to detect astronomical light at different wavelengths. The physics of thermal and non-thermal emission will be examined, along with examples of astronomical sources of such radiation. The importance of multiwavelength observations will be explored through various examples and demonstrated through the production of false-colour images of astronomical phenomena using real multiwavelength data. Finally, the module will focus on the physics of pulsars and their emission in the radio and X-ray regimes, which will also form the basis of the main summative assessment. Students will develop their skills in applied mathematics, problem-solving, image analysis, and scientific investigation.

Module learning outcomes

At the conclusion of the module students will be able to:

  • Understand the classical electromagnetism and fundamental radiation physics relevant to modern observational astronomy
  • Explain the physics and statistics which underpin the detection of astronomical radiation at different wavelengths
  • Describe the different tools and techniques used in multiwavelength astronomy, including the principle of interferometry
  • Discuss the difficulties faced by astronomers making observations in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum and how they may be overcome
  • Explain the origin of thermal and non-thermal emission, including MASER emission, in terms of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics
  • Understand the knowledge that can be gained by observing the same celestial objects and phenomena at different wavelengths
  • Discuss observations of the Sun and the Milky Way in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Describe the astrophysics of pulsars and their multiwavelength emission
  • Produce an infographic explaining the physics and technology of an observational facility
  • Produce composite false-colour images of astronomical phenomena using multiwavelength data
  • Undertake a laboratory investigation related to pulsars and present the findings in a laboratory report


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

The tutor will give regular individual feedback throughout the module on work submitted.

The assessment feedback is as per the university’s guidelines with regard to timings.

Indicative reading

  • Fleisch, D.: A Student’s Guide to Maxwell’s Equations, Cambridge University Press, 2008
  • Condon, J. & Ransom, S.: Essential Radio Astronomy, Princeton University Press, 2016
  • Bradt, H.: Astronomy Methods, 2003
  • Carroll, B. & Ostlie, A.: An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Cambridge University Press, 2017

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.