Columbia University Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy ASTR W2900 (Sec. 1, 1 pt.)

Fridays 10:10am - 11:25am

Room 1332, Pupin Hall


Arlin Crotts
Professor of Astronomy
Phone number: (212) 854-7899
Office: Pupin 1012

Course Motivation:

How do practicing investigators in astrophysical research do their work? What are current topics of research? What developments do active researchers anticipate for the future? We claim the best way for student to appreciate the answers to these is to put them in direct contact with researchers engaged in forefront investigations and let them interact and discuss. This is also an excellent opportunity for students to evaluate whether and how they might like to do research, and what topics interest them. We encourage students to even start a research relationship with some of our visiting astrophysicists if this is mutually favorable.

Mot classes will consist of an hour research presentation followed by 15 minutes for questions and interactions. Feel free to interrupt the presentations to ask questions.

The topics are scheduled as follows:

11 Sep.: Arlin Crotts - Introduction and Organization

18 Sep.: Arlin Crotts - Water (Everywhere?) in the Solar System

25 Sep.: Denton Ebel - Modeling Protoplanetary Disks

2 Oct.: Caleb Scharf - Alien Worlds, Alien Life?

9 Oct.: Arlin Crotts - Echoes of Exploding Stars

16 Oct.: Nicholas Stone - Different Ways to Make a Planet

23 Oct.: Zoltan Haiman - Black Holes in the Centers of Galaxies

30 Oct.: Jeremiah Ostriker - Dark Matter in The Universe

6 Nov.: Greg Bryan - Making Stars and Galaxies

13 Nov.: Kathryn Johnston - How Our Galaxy Came Together

20 Nov.: Jules Halpern - The Universe's Most Violent Explosions

4 Dec.: Jennifer Sokoloski - After A Nova Explodes

11 Dec.: Project Review

Course Exercises:

For each topic, students is required to write a roughly one-page summary of the topic after hearing the presentation, emphasizing any questions, especially those that were not resolved. This is due at the course meeting following the presentation (usually one week later).

At the end of the course, the student is required to write a five-page research concept (based or not based on the topic presentations), telling how a researcher might pursue a specific topic. The student is encouraged to engage in research on this question and discuss it with professional astrophysics researchers (although this later effort is not a course requirement). Time is left in the last course meeting for some students to present their ideas to the class if they want to brainstorm and collect feedback. (This final, 5-minute presentation on December 11 is optional.)

Dr. Crotts will also keep track of how interactive the each student has been during the course, talking to him, other students and the astrophysicist visitors.

Grades will be based on class participation (40%), individual topic responses (25%) and final research ideas and presentations (35%).