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Module PY3A06 Statistical Thermodynamics and Astrophysical Spectroscopy

Cohort: JS Physics and Astrophysics

Credits: 5

Lecturers: Professors J. McGilp, B. Espey

Duration: Michaelmas Term, Statistical Thermodynamics: 16 lectures, Hilary Term, Astrophysical Spectrocopy: 14 lectures

Assesment: End of Year Exam, Continuous Assessment (for Astrophysical Spectroscopy only)

Part I: Statistical Thermodynamics: The purpose of this course is to give students a deeper understanding of thermodynamics and its microscopic counterpart, statistical mechanics. Topics covered: (1) Counting states in classical and quantum systems, and the fundamental assumption of statistical physics. (2) Ensembles, systems of 2-state components, entropy, temperature and chemical potential. (3) Partition functions and their relation to thermodynamic quantities. (4) Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein Statistics. (5) Quasi-classical statistics and equipartition of energy. (6) Application of quantum statistics to photons, gases, and solids.

Lecture Notes

Part II: Astrophysical Spectroscopy: Spectroscopy across the full EM spectrum is the primary means for determining the properties and characteristics of astronomical objects. Some important parameters which characterize astronomical spectra, and which determine the choice of instrumentation are reviewed, with a brief outline of some examples. The underlying physics required for the interpretation of stellar spectra (for stellar classification) and for the diagnostics of low density plasmas is discussed and applied to some specific, topical examples.

Lecture Notes