Syllabus
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ASTRONOMY 309: Current Topics in Astronomy
Fall 2013
UNIQUE NUMBER: 
48525 

TIME, PLACE: 
MW 2:003:30 PM, WEL 3.502 

INSTRUCTOR: 
Pawan Kumar  Professor astrophysics, specializing in exploding stars

TEACHING ASSSISTANTs: 
Rodolfo Santana & Wenbin Lu 
GRADES: There will be two hourlong examinations, each counting 20 percent of the grade. Homeworks (roughly one every other week) will carry 20% of the grade. The remaining 40% of grade will be based on about 11, 10 minute quizzes, spread randomly over the entire semester. The top 10 quiz grades will be counted toward the final 40% quiz grade. Half of these quizzes will be closed book & closed internet and the other half will be open book, but closed internet, and you will be allowed to interact with people sitting close to you (however you MUST respect that some people like to work by themselves and you should not disturb them). The exams are scheduled for 10/9 and 12/4. The exams will be multiple choice. There will be no final exam. There will be NO makeup exam unless there is a written note from a medial doctor or an appropriate official note from the university. Plus/minus grading will be used for the final grade: 59.0 – 63.6 D, 63.7 – 66.6 D, 66.7 – 69.6 D+, 69.7 –72.6 C, 72.7 –76.6 C, 76.7 – 79.6 C+, 79.7 – 82.6 B, 82.7 – 85.6 B, 85.7 – 88.6 B+, 88.7 – 92.0 A, >92.0 A
Bonus Points: You can earn bonus points on HWs by doing extra problems as specified on a couple of home works. Class participation (asking and answering questions) can earn you an additional up to 10 points.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a specialized course for nonscience majors that will presume some knowledge of the basic astronomical concepts presented in Astronomy 301. A working knowledge of basic algebra and scientific notation ("powers of ten") is required, and some familiarity with calculus will be helpful.
COURSE CONTENT: Origin and Evolution of the Universe. Dark matter and dark energy and accelerated expansion of the universe and its ultimate fate. Birth, life and death of stars. Discussion of neutron stars and black holes and their fiery birth in supernovae & gammaray bursts. Supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. Search and detection of planets outside the Solar system.
TEXT required: Your Cosmic Context: An Introduction to Modern Cosmology, by Todd Duncan and Craig Tyler. published by Pearson AddisonWesley
TEXT suggested:
Cosmology: The science of the universe, by Edward Harrison, Cambridge University Press.
Cosmic Catastrophes: Exploding Stars, Black Holes & Mapping the Universe, by J. Craig Wheeler, published by Cambridge University Press (this book is available for online reading at the UT library website: www.lib.utexas.edu)
HELP SESSIONS: Weekly help sessions will be held on Tuesdays 5:00 to 6:00 pm in Welch 3.502 to discuss class material and exams. These sessions and office hours allow a more nearly oneonone relationship and are a valuable addition to the lecture. In addition, there will be a review session the day before each of the two exams – the time and location will be posted on the blackboard in advance.
DISABILITIES: Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 4716259.
WEB SITE: Lecture slides & home works will be posted to the course Blackboard site.
ASTRONOMY 309
Current topics in Astronomy
Syllabus
A Jet from Galaxy M87 [STScI]
Professor
RLM 17.204 · (512) 4713412 · email
Office Hours
TBA
TA
Rodolfo Santana
TA
Wenbin Lu