High Energy Astrophysics  

at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku
The course period September 15 - December 15, 2017

Teachers: Juri Poutanen (juri.poutanen [at] utu.fi), Sergey Tsygankov (sergey.tsygankov [at] utu.fi), Pavel Abolmasov and Alexandra Veledina

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), 7 home exercises, 3 data analysis exercises and a presentation.
Requirements: Minimum 50% of exercises, data-analysis exercises, presentation, 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]


Lecture 1: September 15, Introduction + [handouts 1]
Lecture 2: September 18, Formation of neutron stars [handouts 2]
Lecture 3: September 19, Radio pulsars [handouts 3]
Exercise session 1: September 22 [set 1]
Lecture 4: September 25, X-ray binaries [handouts 4]
Lecture 5: September 26, X-ray binaries (cont.)
Exercise session 2: September 29 [set 2]
Lecture 6: October 2, Accreting millisecond pulsars [handouts 5]
Lecture 7: October 3, X-ray bursts [handouts 6]
Exercise session 3: October 6 [set 3]
Lecture 8: October 9, Spherical accretion [handouts 7]
Lecture 9: October 10, Accretion disks [handouts 8]
Data exercise 1: October 13
Lecture 10: October 16, Accretion disks (cont.) [handouts 8/2015]
Exercise session 4: October 17 [set 4]
Data exercise 2: October 20
Lecture 11: October 23, Spectral properties of accreting black holes and neutron stars [handouts 9]
Lecture 12: October 24, Timing properties of accreting black holes and neutron stars [handouts 10]
Exercise session 5: October 27 [set 5]
Presentations: October 30, in Tuorla
Exercise session 6: November 3 [set 6]
Lecture 13: November 6, Active galactic nuclei [handouts 11]
Lecture 14: November 7, Jets from black holes [handouts 12]
Data exercise 3: November 10
Exercise session 7: December 1 (10.15 in Tuorla) [set 7]
Final exam: December 8 (10.00-13.00 in Tuorla) [questions]
Monday's and Tuesday's meetings are in room XVI and the Friday meeting is in room 109 in Quantum.