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PH30110: Computational astrophysics

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2017/8
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Physics
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 2
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework (CW 100%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites: Before taking this module you must take PH20105 AND take PH30108
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
The aims of this unit are to introduce students to the practical use of computer modelling as a complement to theoretical and experimental solution of physical and astrophysical problems.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this unit the student should be able to:
* identify the strengths and weaknesses of a computational approach to modelling;
* demonstrate a practical knowledge of Python and C programming languages;
* construct Python/C programs to analyse astrophysical problems;
* use computational modelling to perform in-depth investigations into selected topics;
* explain the methodology, issues and output of the investigations performed.

Written Communication T/F A, Numeracy T/F A, Data Acquisition, Handling, and Analysis T/F A, Information Technology T/F A, Problem Solving T/F A.

Introduction to computational modelling as a means of gaining insight into physical problems (1 hour).
Review of Programming in Python/C (4 hours): constants, variables, expressions, functions, arrays, iterative loops. Differentiation and integration. Standard functions. Input and output of data. Graphical output.
Modelling methods (6 hours): Solving equations; linear algebra. Ordinary differential equations: boundary-value problems, Euler's method, Runge-Kutta algorithms, shooting method, finite-difference method. Partial differential equations. Monte Carlo methods. Image processing. N-body simulations of diffuse and centrally-condensed systems.
Exercises and projects based upon development of Python/C programs (22 hours): Projects based upon topics including: planetary dynamics, prediction of orbits, multiple-star systems; radiation transport, Boltzmann and Saha equations, opacity; hydrodynamics, Euler equations, formation of shock waves; nuclear reaction networks, stellar nucleosynthesis; equations of stellar structure, modelling the Sun's interior; gas degeneracy, modelling of white dwarfs and neutron stars; astrophysical plasmas; spiral density waves; extragalactic bending of light, gravitational lensing, dark matter; simple cosmological models, large scale structure of the Universe. The Zel'dovich approximation. Image processing and data reduction techniques.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

PH30110 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Physics
  • USPH-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Physics with Astrophysics (Year 3)
  • USPH-AFM10 : MPhys(Hons) Physics with Astrophysics (Year 3)
  • USPH-AFM11 : MPhys(Hons) Physics with Astrophysics with Research placement (Year 3)
  • USPH-AKM10 : MPhys(Hons) Physics with Astrophysics with Professional Placement (Year 4)