University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Course Listing

Below is a description of all courses offered by the Astronomy Department. Several courses are only offered every other semester or every other year, so check the current semester’s offerings.

All Astronomy courses can be used towards satisfying the Natural Sciences area requirement. ASTR 1210 and 1220 cover complementary subject matter. Each is complete in itself, and a student may elect to take either ASTR 1210 or ASTR 1220, or both concurrently.

Graduate Courses

ASTR 5010: Astrophysical Processes (3 credits)

Prerequisite: ASTR 2110, 2120 (recommended); MATH 5210, 5220; PHYS 3210, 3310 (concurrent), 3430 (concurrent), 3650; or instructor permission.

Basic concepts in mechanics, statistical physics, atomic and nuclear structure, and radiative transfer are developed and applied to selected fundamental problems in the areas of stellar structure, stellar atmospheres, the interstellar medium and extragalactic astrophysics. 

ASTR 5110: Astronomical Techniques (3 credits)

Prerequisites: ASTR 2110-2120; PHYS 342, 343 or permission of instructor.

This course surveys modern techniques of radiation measurement and data analysis and their application to astrophysical problems, especially the physical properties of stars. Relevant experiments in the laboratory and at the telescope will be included.

ASTR 5340: Introductory Radio Astronomy (3 credits)

Prerequisites: MATH 235, PHYS 210.

Fundamentals of measuring power and power spectra, antennas, interferometers, and radiometers. Thermal radiation, synchrotron radiation and line frequency radiation. Radio emission from the planets, sun, flare stars, pulsars, supernovae, interstellar gas, galaxies and quasi-stellar sources.

ASTR 5350: Radio Astronomy Instrumentation (3 credits)

Prerequisite: ASTR 5340 or permission of instructor.

An introduction to the instrumentation of radio astronomy. Discussion includes fundamentals of measuring radio signals, noise theory, basic radiometry, antennas, low noise electronics, coherent receivers, signal processing for continuum and spectral line studies, and arrays. Lecture material is supplemented by illustrative labs.

ASTR 5420: The Interstellar Medium (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

Topics covered include the physics of interstellar gas and grains, the distribution and dynamics of the gas, and cosmic radiation and interstellar magnetic fields.

ASTR 5430, 5440: Stellar Astrophysics (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

Observed properties and physics of stars. Radiation transfer; stellar thermodynamics; convection. Formation of spectra in atmospheres. Equations of stellar structure; nuclear reactions. Stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis. Applicable numerical techniques.

ASTR 5450: High Energy Astrophysics (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

Introduction to the physics of basic radiation mechanisms and particle acceleration processes which are important in high energy phenomena and space science. Applications to pulsars, active galactic nuclei, radio galaxies, quasars, and supernovae will be discussed.

ASTR 5460: Binary Stars (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

The determination of orbital elements, the mass-luminosity-radius relation, formation of binary systems, the Roche model, mass loss, mass transfer, circumstellar material, accretion disks, evolution of close interacting binaries, and some special classes of binaries such as cataclysmic variables, RS CVn binaries, Algol-type binaries, and X-ray binaries.

ASTR 5480: Evolution of the Universe (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

The origin and evolution of structure in the universe. The formation and evolution of galaxies. Tests of the theory based on observations of large scale structure and the properties of galaxies as a function of lookback time.

ASTR 5500, 5510: Topical Seminar (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

A detailed study of a current topic is made by the instructor and the seminar members. The topic to be covered will appear in the academic schedule for the semester in which it is given. In recent years, there have been ASTR 5500 - Stellar Populations, ASTR 5510 - Extragalatic Astronomy, and ASTR 5510 - Galactic Astronomy.

ASTR 5610: Galactic Structure and Stellar Populations (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

This course explores the structure and evolution of star clusters and galaxies, with particular emphasis on objects in the local universe. Topics explored include the evolution of individual stars and their kinematics, chemistry, and spectral energy distributions, the effeE6CC99 such evolution on populations of stars with both simple and complex star formation histories, and galaxies as collections of stellar populations. The course introduces fundamental tools of Galactic astronomy, with topics including methods for assessing the size, shape, age, and dynamics of the Milky Way and other stellar systems, galaxy formation, interstellar gas and dust, dark matter, and the distance scale.

ASTR 5630/5640: Extragalactic Astronomy (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

These classes are intended for graduate and senior undergraduate astronomy students. We survey the field of extragalactic astronomy, considering such topics as: morphological, photometric, dynamical and demographic properties of normal galaxies, together with their gaseous, chemical, stellar and nuclear properties; special kinds of galaxy, such as interacting, starburst and active galaxies; galaxy groups and clusters; dark matter and gravitational lenses; galaxy formation and evolution; the intergalactic medium; and the cosmological framework. ASTR 5630 emphasises the properties of normal galaxies and stellar dynamics, while ASTR 5640 emphasises active galaxies, clusters, evolution and cosmology.

ASTR 5800: Introduction to Astrochemistry (3 credits)

Prerequisite: Students should have a basic knowledge of chemical kinetics, such as that obtained in an undergraduate course in physical chemistry, and a basic knowledge of either atomic or molecular spectroscopy.

This interdisciplinary course will introduce advanced undergraduates and graduates to molecules and their chemistry in different sources throughout the universe, especially in clouds of gas and dust lying among the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy and external galaxies. Among the topics to be studied: a brief intro to stars \amp; the interstellar medium, astronomical spectroscopy, & molecular spatial maps.