The astrophysics of the interstellar medium: theory and observations of the gas, dust, plasma, energetic particles, magnetic field, and electromagnetic radiation in interstellar space. Emphasis is on theory, including elements of: fluid dynamics; excitation of atoms, molecules, and ions; radiative processes; radiative transfer; and physical properties of dust grains. The theory is applied to phenomena including: interstellar clouds (both diffuse atomic clouds and dense molecular clouds); H II regions; shock waves; supernova remnants; cosmic rays; interstellar dust; star formation; and global equilibrium models for the ISM.
Fall 2020 Graduate Courses
Diffuse Matter in Space
Instructors: Bruce T. Draine, Eve Charis Ostriker
Introduction to Plasma Astrophysics
Introductory course to plasma physics, as it applies to space and astrophysical systems. Fundamental concepts are developed with mathematical rigor, and application to the physics of a wide variety of astrophysical systems are made. Topics include magnetohydrodynamics, kinetic theory, waves, instabilities, and turbulence. Applications to the physics of the solar wind and corona, the intracluster medium of galaxy clusters, the interstellar medium of galaxies, and a wide variety of accretion flows are given.
Instructors: Matthew Walter Kunz, Eve Charis Ostriker
Seminar in Theoretical Astrophysics
Designed to stimulate students in the pursuit of research. Participants in this seminar discuss critically papers given by seminar members. Ordinarily, several staff members also participate. Often topics are drawn from published data that present unsolved puzzles of interpretation.
Instructors: Adam S. Burrows
General Plasma Physics I
An introductory course to plasma physics, with sample applications in fusion, space and astrophysics, semiconductor etching, microwave generation, plasma propulsion, high power laser propagation in plasma; characterization of the plasma state, Debye shielding, plasma and cyclotron frequencies, collision rates and mean-free paths, atomic processes, adiabatic invariance, orbit theory, magnetic confinement of single-charged particles, two-fluid description, magnetohydrodynamic waves and instabilities, heat flow, diffusion, kinetic description, and Landau damping. The course may be taken by undergraduates with permission of the instructor.
Instructors: Nathaniel J. Fisch, Hong Qin
Plasma Waves and Instabilities
Hydrodynamic and kinetic models of nonmagnetized and magnetized plasma dispersion; basic plasma waves and their applications; basic instabilities; mechanisms of collisionless dissipation; geometrics-optics approximation, including ray tracing, field-theoretical description of continuous waves, and ponderomotive effects; conservation laws and transport equations for the wave action, energy, and momentum; mode conversion; quasilinear theory.
Instructors: Ilya Yevgenyevich Dodin
Fusion Plasmas & Plasma Diagnostics
Introduction to experimental plasma physics, with emphasis on high-temperature plasmas for fusion. Requirements for fusion plasmas: confinement, beta, power and particle exhaust. Discussion of tokamak fusion and alternative magnetic and inertial confinement systems. Status of experimental understanding: what we know and how we know it. Key plasma diagnostic techniques: magnetic measurements, Langmuir probes, microwave techniques, spectroscopic techniques, electron cyclotron emission, Thomson scattering.
Instructors: Philip Charles Efthimion, William Randolph Fox II, Yevgeny Raitses
Seminar in Plasma Physics
Advances in experimental and theoretical studies or laboratory and naturally-occurring high-termperature plasmas, including stability and transport, nonlinear dynamics and turbulence, magnetic reconnection, selfheating of "burning" plasmas, and innovative concepts for advanced fusion systems. Advances in plasma applications, including laser-plasma interactions, nonneutral plasmas, high-intensity accelerators, plasma propulsion, plasma processing, and coherent electromagnetic wave generation.
Instructors: Samuel A. Cohen, Allan H. Reiman
Turbulence and Nonlinear Processes in Fluids and Plasmas
A comprehensive introduction to the theory of nonlinear phenomena in fluids and plasmas, with emphasis on turbulence and transport. Experimental phenomenology; fundamental equations, including Navier-Stokes, Vlasov, and gyrokinetic; numerical simulation techniques, including pseudo-spectral and particle-in-cell methods; coherent structures; transition to turbulence; statistical closures, including the wave kinetic equation and direct-interaction approximation; PDF methods and intermittency; variational techniques. Applications from neutral fluids, fusion plasmas, and astrophysics.
Instructors: Gregory Wayne Hammett