Fundamentals of Astrophysics (PHYS*7810)

Code and section: PHYS*7810*01

Term: Fall 2021

Instructor: Niayesh Afshordi


Course Information


Instructor: Niayesh Afshordi                                  
Office hours: by appointment              

Lectures and Tutorials


Day Time Location
Monday and Wednesday 1:00pm-2:20pm EIT 2053 (UW campus)


Day Time Location
Friday 1:00pm-2:20pm EIT 2053 (UW campus)

Lectures and Tutorials will also be live streamed on Zoom, and recordings will be available in Dropbox.

This course is designed to provide a basic theoretical background for graduate students in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or related areas. 

The lectures will lay the physical foundations for astrophysical processes, which roughly cover: Order of Magnitude Astrophysics, Radiative processes, Gravitational Dynamics, Plasma and Fluid Astrophysics, Statistical and Nuclear Physics, Collisional Processes, and Relativistic Astrophysics. 

The problem sets and tutorials will cover specific applications, including: Stellar Structure and Evolution, Stellar Remnants, Supernovae and Gamma Ray Bursts, Accretion Disks, Jets and Active Galactic Nuclei, Cosmic Rays, Galaxy and Interstellar Medium, Star and Planet formation.


Assessment Weight
Assignments 40%
Assignment Presentations 20%
Mini-research project 30%
Class Participation 10%


Will include one problem/week, which includes numerical computations. Only the 7 highest marked assignments are included in the final grade.  

Mini-research project

You should let me know your area of interest in Astrophysics within the first 3 weeks of the course, and I’ll assign you a mini-research project.


We have weekly tutorials, so that we could discuss the assignments, and you can present your solutions.

Course Materials    

Required Text


Recommended Texts

  1. T. Padmanabhan, Theoretical Astrophysics, Volume I: Astrophysical Processes (ISBN-13: 978-0521566322; Cambridge University Press) [TA]
  2. Arnab Rai Choudhuri, Astrophysics for Physicists (ISBN-13: 978-0521815536; Cambridge University Press) [AP]
  3. Bruce T. Draine, Physics of the Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium (ISBN-13: 978-0691122144; Princeton University Press) [PIIM]
  4. Mario Vietri, Foundations of High-Energy Astrophysics (ISBN-13: 978-0226855691; University of Chicago Press) [HEA]

 A very engaging self-study problem book, which can be worked through alongside this course is:

The assignments can be submitted into the LEARN Dropbox folder, accessible by registered students. 

Course Schedule

[all times: 1300-1420 EDT]

Lecture/Tutorial Date Topic Reading 1 Reading 2 Assignment Due
L1 9/8/2021 Order of Magnitude Astrophysics TA 1 AP 1  
  9/10/2021  No Tutorial       
L2 9/13/2021 Order of Magnitude Astrophysics TA 1 AP 1  
L3 9/15/2021 Order of Magnitude Astrophysics TA 1 AP 1  
  9/17/2021 No Tutorial       
L4 9/20/2021 Statistical Physics TA 5    
L5 9/22/2021 Radiative Processes TA 4, 6 AP 2  
  9/24/2021 No Tutorial      
L6 9/27/2021 Radiative Processes TA 4, 6 AP 2  
L7  9/29/2021 Radiative Processes TA 6 AP 2   
T1 10/1/2021 A1     A1: Stellar Structure and Evolution
L8 10/4/2021 Radiative Processes TA 7  AP 2  
L9 10/6/2021 Dynamics  TA 2 Hamiltonian Systems  
L10 10/8/2021 Gravitational Dynamics TA 2 AP 6  
  10/11/2021 Reading Week: No Lecture!      
  10/13/2021 Reading Week: No Lecture!        
  10/15/2021 Reading Week: No Tutorial!      
L11 10/18/2021 Gravitational Dynamics TA 6 AP 6  
L12  10/20/2021 Gravitational Dynamics TA 6  AP 6  
  10/22/2021 No Tutorial!      A2: Stellar Remnants
  10/25/2021 No Lecture!      
  10/27/2021 No Lecture!      
T2 10/29/2021 A2-A3 TA 8 Turbulence A3
L13 11/1/2021 Fluids, Turbulence, and Shocks      
L14 11/3/2021 Fluids, Turbulence, and Shocks  TA 8     
T3 11/5/2021 A4      A4
L15 11/8/2021  Fluids, Turbulence, and Shocks TA 8    
L16 11/10/2021 Plasma Physics TA 9    
L17 11/12/2021 Plasma Physics  TA 9   A5
L18 11/15/2021 Plasma Physics  TA 9     
L19 11/17/2021 Plasma Physics TA 9    
L20 11/19/2021 MHD  MRI    A6
L21 11/22/2021 Nuclear Physics TA 12    
L22 11/24/2021 Nuclear Physics  TA 12      
T4  11/26/2021 A5-A6       A7
L23 11/29/2021 High Energy Processes High Energy Review    
L24  12/1/2021 High Energy Processes High Energy Review    
T5 12/3/2021 A7-A8      A8
  12/??/2021 Project Presentations     A9

Schedule of Final Presentations (12/??/2021 @ ???)