With the goal of understanding the physical processes that govern the universe, its constituents, and their origins and evolution, astronomy uses the apparatus and methodology of physics to gather and interpret data. Theoretical work and technology development round out astrophysics. In what follows, we use the terms “astronomy” and “astrophysics” interchangeably. The astrophysics option is designed to give the student an understanding of the basic facts and concepts of astronomy today, to stimulate their interest in research, and to provide a basis for graduate work in astronomy/astrophysics.
Students petitioning to double-major in Astrophysics and Physics must present a plan that has a minimum of 92 units that are solely counted as satisfying the Ay requirements, and a minimum of 92 units that are solely counted as satisfying the Ph requirements.
Attention is called to the fact that any student whose grade-point average is less than 1.9 at the end of an academic year in the subjects listed in the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy may, at the discretion of their department, be refused permission to continue the work in this option.
Ay Option Requirements
- Ay 20, 21, 101, 102, 30 or one term of Ay 141, Ay 31, Ma 2, Ma 3, Ph 2 abc or Ph 12 abc, Ph 125 ab, and Ph 106 abc.
- Any three of Ph 3 or Ph 8bc, Ph5, Ph6, Ph7, or Ay 105. APh 23 and 24 taken as a pair may be substituted for one of these labs.
- 63 additional units of Ay or Ph courses. Ph 127 a, Ph 136 bc and one of Ph 21, Ph 22, Ph 121 abc are strongly recommended.
- 27 additional units of science or engineering electives, of which 18 must be outside the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. ACM 95 ab is a popular choice. Core classes or other introductory-level courses such as CS 1 do not count toward fulfillment of this requirement.
- Passing grades must be earned in a total of 486 units, including the courses listed above. Courses satisfying requirements 1, 2, and 3 must be taken for grades unless they are pass/fail only.
Ay Typical Course Schedule
|Units per term|
Ph 12 abc
or Ph 2 abc
|Ma 2, Ma 3||Sophomore Mathematics||9||9||-|
|Ay 20||Basic Astronomy and the Galaxy||9||-||-|
|Ay 21||Galaxies and Cosmology||-||9||-|
|Ay 30||Intro. to Modern Research||3||-||-|
|Ph 3 1 or 5 1||Physics Laboratory||9||-||-|
|ACM 95 ab 2||Intro. Methods of App. Math.||-||12||12|
|Ph 21 or 22 3||Computational Tools||-||-||6|
|Ph 125 abc 4||Quantum Mechanics||9||9||9|
|Ph 106 abc||Topics in Classical Physics||9||9||9|
|Ay 101||The Physics of Stars||9||-||-|
|Ay 102||Physics of the Interstellar Medium||-||9||-|
|Ay 104 3||High Energy Astrophysics||-||-||9|
|Ph 127 a 3||Statistical Physics||9||-||-|
, or APh
|Ay 31||Written Communication||-||-||3|
|Ay 105 1||Astronomy Instrumentation Lab||-||-||9|
|Ay 78||Senior Thesis||9||9||9|
|Ph 121 3 or Ay 117||Computational Analysis||-||6||-|
|Ay 141 b 3||Research Conference in Astronomy||-||3||-|
1 Choose among laboratory classes to satisfy Option Requirement 2.
2 ACM 95 is a popular choice for Option Requirement 4. Other courses may also be used.
3 Strongly recommended courses for Option Requirement 3. Other courses may be substituted.
4 Phys 125c is strongly recommended and can be counted towards Option Requirement 3.
The sequence Ay 20, 21 constitutes a solid introduction to modern astrophysics, with more advanced courses (Ay 101, 102, plus Ay electives) taken in the junior and senior years. The course schedule above is an example leading to excellent preparation for graduate study, but it is also possible to fulfill the option requirements with a more diverse set of electives across options, and even to take Ay 20, 21 junior year and Ay 101, 102 senior year. In either scenario, it is desirable for a student to gain as broad a background as possible in related fields of science and engineering. An ability to present one’s work is vital to a successful career in any field. The oral communications requirement can be satisfied by presenting during a term of Ay 141, or with Ay 30. Ay 31 satisfies the written communication requirement.
Students are encouraged (but not required) to undertake research leading to a senior thesis; credit for this work is provided through Ay 78 with the process and requirements fully described there. Non-thesis research credits may be earned through Ay 142 with a maximum of 9 units per term. Elective credit can be given for no more than 3 terms of Ay 142. Computational skills may be acquired through e.g. ACM 11, ACM 106, CS 2, CS 11, CS 21, CS 38, CS 121, CMS 155, Ph 20, Ph 21, Ph 121.
Students are strongly advised to take advanced mathematical methods in ACM95 and Ph 129, and an advanced statistical physics or thermodynamics course such as Ph 127.
The student may elect any course offered in any division in a given term, provided that they have has the necessary prerequisites for that course. The following courses are useful to work in various fields of astronomy and astrophysics: ACM 95, ACM 106, APh 17, APh/EE 23/24, APh/EE 117, Ay 104, Ay 105, Ay 107, Ay 117, Ay 121–127, Ch 125 ab, EE 45, EE/Ae 157, Ge/Ay 11 c, Ge 103, Ge/Ch 128, Ge 131, Ge/Ay 132, 133, 137, Ge 141, Ma 4, Ma 112, ME 11, ME 12, Ph 20–22, Ph 77, 101, 121, 127, 129, 136, 137, 199, 236 (this is not necessarily a complete list).
Ay Option Minor
The Ay minor is expected to appeal to student interest in the field of astronomy that arises from overlap, not only with the most traditional area of physics, but with more recent and rapidly developing intersections of astronomy with e.g. computer science, certain aspects of engineering, chemistry, planetary science, and perhaps some day biology.
Ay minor coursework is designed to prepare the capable student to undertake cross-disciplinary research involving astronomy. A firm basis for this is established with sophomore level physics and astronomy requirements. Junior year courses sample from among the Ay major requirements and electives. Both traditional theory courses and more hands-on practical training courses are available, with one course of each type recommended for breadth. Senior year features research and written presentation of the research, with additional electives encouraged.
Courses taken in the minor option must be taken for grades (no P/F), except for Ay 142 which is offered as P/F only. Courses 100 and above can not be used to also satisfy requirements in the student’s major option.
Ay Option Minor Requirements
- Basis in physics: either Ph 2ab or Ph12 ab (18 units)
- Introductory Astronomy: any two of Ge/Ay 11c, Ay 20, or Ay 21 (18 units)
- In-depth Astrophysics, Instrumentation, and Data: any two of: Ay101, Ay 102, Ay 104, Ge/Ay 133, Ay 105, Ay/Ge 107, Ay 122 (18 units)
- Research: both Ay 142 (9 units) and Ay 144 (3 units) = (12 units)
Total units required: 66
Other courses of interest to students seeking Ay minor competency include Ay 119, Ay 198, Ay 141, Ph 2c/12c, Ph 101, EE 40, APh/EE 23. These do not contribute to credit for the minor, however.
Course selection should be done in consultation with the Ay option representative, who can advise on an appropriate curriculum for a given student’s goals.
As a complement to the required Ay 142 enrollment, SURF research with the relevant Ay, Ph, or Pl.Sc. faculty member is encouraged.