High Energy Astrophysics  

at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku
The course period August 31 - November 20, 2015

Teachers: Juri Poutanen (juri.poutanen [at] utu.fi) and Sergey Tsygankov (sergey.tsygankov [at] utu.fi)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should be able to: describe the physics of compact stars and derive the mass-radius relationship for compact stars assuming degenerate electron or neutron pressure; outline the main methods of measuring masses, radii and spins of compact stars; show the Galactic distribution of different classes of compact stars; discuss the period-period derivative relation for pulsars and place there different classes of pulsars; describe different methods of the magnetic field determination of compact stars; describe the main methods of detecting X-rays and gamma-rays; obtain and analyze the archival X/gamma-ray data on the object of interest; develop self-study skills; solve problems on topics in the syllabus; read, understand and be able to answer questions on scientific refereed articles in the field of high-energy astrophysics.


Neutron stars, formation and structure. Degenerate neutron gas, equation of state, mass-radius relation. Mass determination in binary systems. Radio pulsars, X-ray pulsars, accreting millisecond pulsars. X-ray sources in the Milky Way. Low- and high-mass X-ray binaries. Stellar-mass black holes. Intermediate-mass black holes. Supermassive black holes in the Milky Way and in other galaxies. Physics of accretion, spherical accretion, accretion disks. Observations of accreting neutron stars and black holes, spectral and temporal properties. Clusters of galaxies. Relativistic jets in AGN and gamma-ray bursts. X-ray and gamma-ray detectors. Main high-energy observatories. Analysis of the archival X/gamma-ray data. The course contains a number of demanding computer exercises and data analysis tasks.


Charles P.A., Seward F.D.: Exploring the X-ray Universe, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995
Frank J., King A., Raine D.: Accretion power in Astrophysics, 3rd ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002.

The course consist of lectures (15-16), home exercises (6-7) and data analysis exercises (4-5).
Requirements: Minimum 50% of exercises, simulation and data-analysis exercises, and the final exam.

Compulsory problems (return by the deadline, => 30 % of the final score) [set 1] [set 2] [set 3] [set 4] [set 5] [set 6] [set 7]
Questions for the exam [pdf]


Lecture 1: August 31, Introduction [handouts 1]
Lecture 2: September 1, Formation of neutron stars [handouts 2]
Lecture 3: September 7, Radio pulsars [handouts 3]
Lecture 4: September 8, X-ray binaries [handouts 4]
Exercise session 1: September 11 [set 1]
Lecture 5: September 14, X-ray pulsars
Lecture 6: September 15, Accreting millisecond pulsars [handouts 5]
Exercise session 2: September 18 [set 2]
Lecture 7: September 28, X-ray bursts [handouts 6]
Lecture 8: September 29, Spherical accretion [handouts 8]
Exercise session 3: October 2 [set 3]
Lecture 9: October 5, Accretion disks [handouts 9]
Lecture 10: October 6, Accretion disks (cont.)
Exercise session 4: October 9 [set 4]
Lecture 11: October 12, Spectral properties of accreting black holes and neutron stars [handouts 10]
Lecture 12: October 13, Timing properties of accreting black holes and neutron stars [handouts 11]
Exercise session 5: October 16 [set 5]
Lecture 13: October 19, Active galactic nuclei [handouts 12]
Lecture 14: October 20, Jets from black holes [handouts 13]
Exercise session 6: October 23 [set 6]
Data exercise 1: October 27
Exercise session 7: October 30 [set 7]
Data exercise 2: November 3
Data exercise 3: November 6
Data exercise 4: November 16
Exam: December 8 [pdf]