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
% of module mark
Special assessment rules
% of module mark
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.
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